Challenging harmful norms


Changing social norms is key to reducing the number of child mutilations in Uganda. Research shows that throughout Uganda, the demand for traditional medicine and ceremonies containing body parts, a practice known locally as child sacrifice, comes from the community. The abandonment of this harmful practice is achieved through local communities initially attending workshops and establishing an open and honest environment where the issue of child sacrifice and the mutilation of children can be discussed.

HumaneAfrica’s approach is based around the community acknowledging that child sacrifice exists and has an adverse effect on their community. Through workshops, consisting of facilitated group discussions, the community establishes that their own children are at risk of violence. At the same time, it is the community members themselves who drive the demand for children’s body parts by visiting so-called witchdoctors in the knowledge that children will be mutilated.

One of the most important aspects of this approach is that the acknowledgment that this harmful practice is community driven, comes from the community and not from the facilitator or another outsider. Using a comprehensive set of questions which generate discussion in small groups, this conclusion is achieved.

Once the community makes the link between their visit to a so-called witchdoctor and a mutilation of a child which has taken place in their community, social norms can change and the community has the possibility of joining together to collectively abandon this harmful practice. Each community involved in this project has fully taken part in this process and has decided to collectively abandon this practice and has acknowledged the link mentioned above. HumaneAfrica’s role is to give communities the opportunity to discover this link for themselves and support the community in designing and implementing activities to collectively abandon this harmful practice.