I am not a witch!

WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS SCENES THAT MAY UPSET SOME VIEWERS

Children in their thousands are suffering significant abuse and stigmatisation, or even being killed, due to accusations of witchcraft against them. There are tens of thousands of cases, in many nations worldwide.

‘I’m not a witch’ is a powerful, new short film produced by Congolese film maker, Tshoper Kabambi, designed to promote awareness of the problem. Shot in the Democratic Republic of Congo, this film is part of a media strategy to engage communities, churches, civic organisations and other stakeholders, with the aim of protecting children from child witchcraft accusations and the associated abuse.

The film features street-living children in Kinshasa that have been affected by the issue of child witchcraft accusations. Using their voices, the film introduces the issue of child witchcraft accusation and the impact it has had on children living on the street. The film includes a small dramatised scenario based on a real-life stories. It also features a pastor speaking about how he previously accused children of being witches and his recognition of the damage it has done to the lives of children and their families.

Child witch accusation is a complex issue. Alongside the film are related materials for radio and downloadable audio podcasts for churches that will further engage people and raise awareness of this complex social problem.  The film and materials recognise that there are differing beliefs on this issue and challenges these from a credible position, enabling misconceptions to be challenged, and highlighting the stigma, discrimination and trauma experienced by children.

These resources were commissioned by Feba in response to requests from street living children and survivors of witchcraft accusations, who wanted to talk about this issue and tell their stories in their own words. HCR Associate, Stephanie Mooney, is active in facilitating this work and encouraging the use of these different resources across the DRC and other countries, to challenge harmful cultural practices and to stop children being abused.

HCR is part of the Stop the Child Witch Accusations steering group (SCWA), a coalition of individuals and agencies responding to the reality of children experiencing serious harm or the threat of harm due to accusations of witchcraft or belief in malevolent spiritual influence.

For more information about this issue and helpful resources please see: https://stop-cwa.org

If this article raises any personal issues please contact your local professional services or contact the helplines below.

In DRC (Kinshasa and Goma): Dial 117

In UK: National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247

In Australia: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) 

 

 

 

 

 

Water: essential for life

By Jon Hargreaves

Our partner, Seva, working among tribal people in Maharashtra had gone to distribute SD cards for latest audio programmes for the 'speaker boxes' when they discovered the community in Kahandol in great distress due to lack of water. They found people desperately trying to dig pits to find water, but with little effect.

Although HCR is sponsoring a well for the village, which is now in the process of being dug (see https://www.h-c-r.org/news/2019/3/4/time-is-running-out), Seva’s Chief Executive, Shilpa Shinde said they had to do something to alleviate the community’s distress. After hunting around to find a water tanker they eventually managed to get hold of one, which arrived in Kahandol village late in the evening. They have arranged for a water tanker to come to the village every two days until the new well is completed.

We’re so proud of our Indian team-mates for this act of compassion!

Doesn't the man's face say it all?

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By Dane Waters

The first week of April was very significant for the community of Geraldton. Local services, businesses and community got together to launch an awareness raising week full of events to shed light on the devastating impact of family violence. In Australia, 1 in 6 women have experienced physical or sexual violence and 1 in 5 have been sexually assaulted or threatened. These statistics are even more alarming at the local level. So in response to this, the Geraldton community joined together to make a stand together to say violence is never okay.

Numbers and statistics do not convey the wider impact that family violence has within the community. They don’t represent the fear of a woman (and often their children) in hiding from their abusive partner, or of the wider family scared for the safety of their daughter, sister or grandchildren. Statistics do not capture the worry of the family violence counsellors who have helped deal with an incident and are constantly worrying if that person is okay.

Health Communication Resources Inc. stands with the Geraldton community and all other communities to say violence is never okay. We have been first responders and seen the devastating impacts of family and domestic violence. We will continue to work tirelessly to raise awareness of family violence in the community by using the powerful tool of community media.

For more information about the project, check out https://communityrespectandequality.com.au/

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By Jon Hargreaves

After only one month, the ‘Kickout Teenage Pregnancy” campaign (Piga teke mimba za mapema in Swahili) by HCR partner-station Amani FM in eastern Kenya, has been so successful, the call-in lines are jammed.  The team has been hosting talk shows, call-in programmes and getting out and about in the schools of Tana River County, to promote awareness of underage pregnancy. As Station Manager, Harriet Atyang explains, “We’ve been encouraging girls to follow their dreams and be aware of grooming by predatory men. Tana River County is among the four worst hit counties with this menace and is one of the major reasons it performs so poorly in the national exams,” she added

The station receives more than 300 phone calls per day and more than 200 sms text messages.  “In fact our call lines are getting so congested we are trying to get a third line and another phone to help ease the congestion,” says Harriet.

The station is using the Una Hakika SMS text reporting system, where listeners are given a short code which enables them to seek counselling or report any incidents where they feel threatened or at risk.

Harriet says the campaign is the talk of town and that the response has been overwhelming, hoping it will result in significant change in the community.

HCR is working across Africa and Asia, supporting communities in crisis, through community centred-media. For more information contact hcruk@h-c-r.org

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