By Addis Getachew
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
One in four children in many countries in Africa experience sexual violence, a document presented at the "International Policy Conference on the African Child" in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa said Monday.
The two-day conference on the premises of the UN Economic Commission for Africa brought together policy makers, academics, civil society organizations and nongovernmental organizations.
According to the conference booklet titled “Crimes and Extreme Violence against Children in Africa: A Glimpse Into Our Hidden Shame,” too many children in Africa face violence, often fatal, while the problem remained largely hidden from public attention.
“In many countries in Africa, one in four children, experience sexual violence,” it said.
Children accused of witchcraft were being subjected to exorcism and other so-called purification rituals that involve the deadly use of force or the forced ingestion of toxic substances.
Infanticide was also rife in many places in Africa. “In South Africa, out of 100,000 live births, 27.7 children under one year are victims of infanticide,” it said.
Albino children were being killed in what the document described as “medicine murder” -- a practice involving the killing children born without color pigmentation for their body parts to be used as “magical medicine”.
Graca Machel, chair of the conference organizer African Child Policy Forum’s board of trustees and widow of the late Nelson Mandela, said: “Our agenda cannot be more critical.
“Children are the future of our continent. And the future will judge us as much by our treatment of the vulnerable as by our development.”
The forum's Executive Director, Theophane Nikyema, said: "We hope that this report would trigger public anger and contribute to an Africa-wide dialogue and engagement to bring this shameful practice to a quick end."