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Interview with Gary Foxcroft

"I hope that audiences take away a deep sense of outrage that this kind of abuse is taking place in the 21st century."

HBO

When did you first learn about this disturbing phenomena?

Gary Foxcroft

I stumbled across the belief back in 2003 when I was in Nigeria carrying out research into the activities of ExxonMobil in the region. People often talked about how such children could turn into animals and cause all sorts of problems. I found it all quite unbelievable and still do today.

HBO

What are some of the factors that fuel it?

Gary Foxcroft

Poverty, massive widespread environmental devastation caused by the activities of the oil industry, the teachings of some Pentecostal pastors, lack of Government regulation of churches and the widespread viewing of Nollywood films that promote such supertitious beliefs have all played a significant role in the spread of the belief.

HBO

Can this discrimination be eradicated?

Gary Foxcroft

Yes, I have to believe that it can, otherwise it would be very difficult to continue with the work. Ultimately just as society produces culture so it can change it and eradicate such practices.

HBO

What does the future hold for these children, if laws arent changed?

Gary Foxcroft

Thankfully the Akwa Ibom State Government have enacted legislation making it illegal to brand children as witches. However there is still a great deal of work to be done to ensure that it is fully implemented. Pastors and parents that abuse children should be arrested and prosecuted. At the moment there appears to be little political will to ensure that this happens and this is the main thing that will need to change if we are to put a stop to this needless abuse.

HBO

What do you hope audiences take away from this film?

Gary Foxcroft

I hope that audiences take away a deep sense of outrage that this kind of abuse is taking place in the 21st century and that they go away and think about how they can encourage their church, community or friends group to support our campaign to prevent the abuse of children today. More details of how they can do this can be found at www.makeapact.org.

Saving Africa's Witch Children

May 26 on HBO2