The Superstition that Dismembers the African Child: An Exploration of the Scale and Features of Juju-Driven Paedicide in Ghana

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Abstract

Juju-related child homicide or ritual paedicide (i.e. killing children for ritual or occult purposes) has been the subject of many media reports in Africa. The present study explores the evolution, magnitude, motivations and primary features of ritual paedicide, and identifies the socio-cultural, religious and economic contexts of this crime in contemporary Ghana. An in-depth analysis of ritual homicide cases/reports publicized in three local Ghanaian media outlets between 2013 and 2020 was carried out to realize this aim. Semi-structured interviews involving 20 participants were then conducted to gain additional insights into key aspects of the results of the media content analysis. The data demonstrate that juju-involved murders are widespread in Ghana, and the worst victims are children of low socio-economic backgrounds in rural communities. Poor parental supervision is a significant risk factor for ritual paedicide. Perpetrators and prime suspects are predominantly young adult males, aged between 20 and 39 years, unemployed or on a low income. Most perpetrators are motivated by financial gain. The study highlights the need for economic improvement and promoting formal and public education. It also stresses the need to bring juju practitioners under closer scrutiny and criminalize some of their activities.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages42
JournalInternational Annals of Criminology
Volume60
Issue number1
Early online date01 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 09 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • juju
  • human body parts
  • ritual paedicide
  • ritual murder
  • criminal justice system

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