African witch doctors stealing baby parts to help politicians win elections

African moms have to be extra-protective of their babies, especially during election time, because witch doctors steal their babies' body parts and use them allegedly to help politicians win elections.

Sarah Babirye's infant daughter was one week old when Babirye pierced her ears. Babirye's husband wanted to wait until the baby was a year old, but Babirye insisted.

"Now with her ears pierced, I am convinced she is safe from being sacrificed by witch doctors," she says.

The demand for children's body parts, including livers, kidneys, tongues and genitals, comes from people, often called witch doctors, who use those organs in rituals believed to treat illnesses, prompt blessings or protection from ancestors. According to some reports, human sacrifice is especially common just before elections as some politicians do whatever they can to win or keep office. 

Researchers with Humane Africa, for work published in a 2013 report, found that 20 mutilations took place in 25 communities in a four-month period in 2012. In one case, a pregnant woman was attacked and the fetus was cut out and mutilated. In total, researchers heard 140 accounts in which the person interviewed had seen a mutilated body or organ separated from a body or even confessed to killing a person for the purpose of removing a body part.

... [P]ierced or circumcised body parts are less likely to be targeted.

"If it's the genitals or the head, and these parts are damaged, then the targeted child will be spared," he says. "But if the needed parts are the legs, arms, blood [or] fingers, body piercing or circumcision unfortunately may not guarantee safety."

Babirye is confident that her daughter, who is now 8 months old, is safe because her ears are pierced.

"I can travel away from home assured that I will find her home, not kidnapped and sacrificed by a witch doctor," she says.

Questions for discussion:

1) If Africa had solid campaign finance laws, do you think contributions from witch doctors could be better regulated?

2) If a witch doctor came to your door and offered to give your child a free checkup, would you accept?  (Remember: it would be free!)

3) If African countries adopt a single-payer health care plan, do you think Africans will still be able to see the witch doctor of their choice?

Ed Straker is the senior writer at NewsMachete.com.

African moms have to be extra-protective of their babies, especially during election time, because witch doctors steal their babies' body parts and use them allegedly to help politicians win elections.

Sarah Babirye's infant daughter was one week old when Babirye pierced her ears. Babirye's husband wanted to wait until the baby was a year old, but Babirye insisted.

"Now with her ears pierced, I am convinced she is safe from being sacrificed by witch doctors," she says.

The demand for children's body parts, including livers, kidneys, tongues and genitals, comes from people, often called witch doctors, who use those organs in rituals believed to treat illnesses, prompt blessings or protection from ancestors. According to some reports, human sacrifice is especially common just before elections as some politicians do whatever they can to win or keep office. 

Researchers with Humane Africa, for work published in a 2013 report, found that 20 mutilations took place in 25 communities in a four-month period in 2012. In one case, a pregnant woman was attacked and the fetus was cut out and mutilated. In total, researchers heard 140 accounts in which the person interviewed had seen a mutilated body or organ separated from a body or even confessed to killing a person for the purpose of removing a body part.

... [P]ierced or circumcised body parts are less likely to be targeted.

"If it's the genitals or the head, and these parts are damaged, then the targeted child will be spared," he says. "But if the needed parts are the legs, arms, blood [or] fingers, body piercing or circumcision unfortunately may not guarantee safety."

Babirye is confident that her daughter, who is now 8 months old, is safe because her ears are pierced.

"I can travel away from home assured that I will find her home, not kidnapped and sacrificed by a witch doctor," she says.

Questions for discussion:

1) If Africa had solid campaign finance laws, do you think contributions from witch doctors could be better regulated?

2) If a witch doctor came to your door and offered to give your child a free checkup, would you accept?  (Remember: it would be free!)

3) If African countries adopt a single-payer health care plan, do you think Africans will still be able to see the witch doctor of their choice?

Ed Straker is the senior writer at NewsMachete.com.

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