Monday, May 23, 2011

Victim had surgery and is doing fine

The 14 year old boy who was attacked over a year ago and had his entire genitalia removed has just spent 2 weeks in hospital in Maputo, Mozambique. His operation to remove a tube will enable him to urinate "normally". The team in Maputo spent many days with him in the hospital and also arranged for him to visit our office. Here is a photo of his visit and also a couple of drawings he made for us.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Victim receiving medical and educational support

In January 2011, the boy who was attacked on May 2010 and had his genitalia and eyes removed, arrived safely at Mozambique's only school for the blind where he is learning to read and also receiving the ongoing medical attention he needs. It wasn't easy to arrange all this and credit goes to the project team who did an excellent job getting him there!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A New Case on 5 May 2010, 12-year-old boy

Another mutilation in Mozambique. We are receiving more than one report per month. This time a 12 year old boy was attacked on 5 May 2010. His genitals and eyes were removed. Amazingly...he survived and is in hospital after lying bleeding for 24 hours. One of the attackers confessed to our researcher, we hope to visit the boy in hospital later this week.

We have an interview confession from the person who attacked the 12 year old boy. He describes how he was approached by someone wanting him to assist in this mutilation. "He told me he wanted to work with me on cutting some parts from a child, indicating the size (of the child ed.). He promised that after I took the package and came back (...) he would pay me ($266 ed.). I knew about the existence of a child with those characteristics and I also wanted the money, I did not hesitate". He goes on to say "he said we should avoid killing, the body parts have to be extracted from a living person". The picture above was taken a few weeks ago.

More from the interview confession. He "threw a big stone at the child's chest to make him faint and so that we could work freely. Next, (name removed) gives me the knife and tells me to cut and remove the eyes, threatening me not to give up or fear, for me not to think as a human being and not to see the child as a person in that moment". He goes on "first he removed the eyes of the child, I removed the entire package of the genital organ of the child with the same knife. (...) then he placed the body parts in a plastic bag and he handed it to me sending me to go the the other side, to Malawi". One of our team is hoping to visit this 12 year old boy in hospital in the next few days.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Still about the 10-year-old girl

We've received an interview with the police chief for the case of the 10-year-old girl. He confirmed they killed the girl and then removed her genital organs, her tongue and her teeth. He then said "After they murdered they threw her in the well that had water, the relatives started looking but they didn’t know that she was right there in the well of their house, they even kept drinking the water from that well even after the child was inside it".

10-year-old girl murdered for her body parts

We've received an interview from the father of a 10 year old girl who was murdered for her body parts a few weeks ago in Mozambique, her body was dumped in the family's well. The father believes the bodyparts were to be used for Muti to increase business at the local mill. Here is what he said. "She was 10 years old. They killed her here in the house and then they went to cut her there in the bush. I saw the body, when we took it out from the well. My daughter was cut in this lower part (referring to her genitalia ed.), they removed the tongue and the teeth. They are going to take them to a traditional healer that will make a treatment to have a lot of deals in the grinding (referring to the local mill ed.)"

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The case of a boy who survived a mutilation attack

On 5 December 2009, a case was aired by Mozambican National Television (TVM) about a 16 year old boy, in Niassa (northern Mozambique), who, on 26 November 2009, was attacked by three men who cut off his genital organs. Our team started an investigation and this is what we have discovered from several first hand Interviews.

The boy, who was 13 years old at the time of the attack, had been grazing goats when the three men approached the boy saying they would help him search for a goat he had lost. The boy explained, “they began hitting me, pulling me and I started screaming for help, but nobody showed up, they cut me in the head with a knife and I passed out. They took my pants off, they tied my hands and legs and put mud in my nostrils and mouth, They cut my genitals, they wrapped the organs and put them in a bag and ran away. A lot of blood was coming out of my head and nobody was coming to help me. So I stayed there for 2 days without eating anything and then I crawled to the road”.

The three men left him there to bleed to death. The boy lay in the field for two days, after which time he crawled to the nearest road (thought to be almost 1km away) and was found by the police and taken to the Provincial Hospital of Lichinga.

According to the doctor “the genitals were completely removed, it was a clean cut and they took all the genitals using a big knife, with one cut. This area was completely infected. It must have been someone very well trained or someone who is used to doing this kind of thing. Even a health professional would not be able to make such a clean cut without training”.

Two men have been arrested in connection with this case, they both claim they are innocent despite being identified by the victim. The boy says the men were guards from a kindergarten and he would normally see them when he went grazing the goats. The investigation is ongoing.

In January 2010, the boy was transferred to the Central Hospital of Maputo, where he is receiving medical attention. The Mozambican Human Rights League has been helping the boy with few basic needs such as food, clothes and some emotional support.

It is important to say that several child rights were violated in this short period. When TVM aired the news, they exposed the boy without his permission. They even showed the disturbing images of his wound. The boy also stated in the interview: “I even appeared in TVM and I didn’t like that”.

It seems unimaginable how someone can perform this gruesome act on a person, especially a child. However, in our project we have seen more cases like this one and it is evident that this is a frequent practice in the country, in which the body parts removed from the bodies are used by so called witchdoctors in several treatments allegedly to improve life conditions. The victim even stated: “They sell it to have money and cars, and they get rich”.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cultural and psychological factors (part 2/4)

Muti (also spelt Muthi) is a term for traditional medicine in southern Africa. The word Muti is derived from the Zulu word for tree, of which the root is -thi. African traditional medicine makes use of various natural products, many of which are derived from trees. For this reason, medicine generally is known as Muti, but it is also applied to formulations used in traditional medical dispensing (Ashforth, 2005).

As part of Muti practices, some witchdoctors make use of the so-called ‘medicine murder’ or ‘Muti murder’, where body parts are removed from the bodies of living persons. The intention is not to kill the victims as such, but it is expected that they will die due to the damage inflicted (Ashforth, 2005). Muti-murder is difficult to describe concisely, as it has changed over time, involving an ever-greater variety of perpetrator, victim, method and motive. In the interviews conducted as part of this research project, Muti using body parts is used widely and for many purposes.

Ashforth (2005) defines Muti as a substance fabricated with parts from plants, animals or minerals by an expert person possessing secret knowledge to achieve healing or witchcraft substances. He mentions that both Healers and witches use supernatural forces, but they use it for different ends. He says that witchcraft is considered the act of malicious persons who use harmful substances (poison) and that TH administer aid to patients, and almost always dispense substances (medicine), but both substances are known generically as Muti. He further states that witches using Muti are said to be able to cause every disease and misfortune and a number of Healers claim to be able to cure every disease (including AIDS) and to remedy every misfortune. This is supported by an interview with a Traditional Healer in Nampula, Mozambique, a member of AMETRAMO, “AIDS does have a cure […] It is probable that, mentally a Traditional Healer can cure AIDS according to his or her information”. However, another informant, also a member of the same organisation, but from Beira, stated “Who can heal someone with AIDS in this world? Nobody! Until today there is no medicine”.

Ashforth’s report mentions that Muti substances can enter the body through the mouth, lungs, skin, sexual intercourse and anus, thus anyone who eats, drinks, breathes or puts the body in contact with other persons or substances needs to be careful. Also Muti is said to work over long distances, without needing any direct contact between witch and victim and can even work through the medium of a dream (Ashforth 2005). Muti has a strong hold on many, as one informant in Mozambique stated “People have a deep belief in it”. Another informant in South Africa stated “It is the belief that you must have Muti for the business to work. The sad part is that they no longer use Muti as we knew it, but body parts”. This belief is further confirmed by other informants from South Africa “It is working because some people who are associated with the use of the parts are untouchable”, “People believe body parts can be utilized as Muti to call customers or to attract customers to buy more in their businesses”.