ActionAid join CSOs to demand for law …to criminalise tagging people as witches

ActionAid Ghana yesterday joined other Civil Society Organisations to press for law to criminalise the tagging of people as witches.

This was during a vigil at Shiashie on the theme “Stop Witchcraft Accusations in Ghana,” to highlight the menace of tagging people as witches and draw public support to curb the practice.

More than 50 civil society activists, including Activista Ghana and Young Urban Women’s Movement ; both youth wings of Action Aid, joined the vigil which lasted for three hours from 6:00 p.m. to 9 :00 p.m.

As part of the programme, the activists marched from Shiashie to the Accra Mall holding placards some of which read “Old Age is not Witchcraft,” “No more lynching”, “Stop Branding Women as Witches.”

Addressing the media, Margaret Brew-Ward, Women’s Rights and Campaigns Manager, described the day as a “black day” because exactly two years ago, human rights abuse in the country was taken to another level when the late AkuaDenteh was accused of witchcraft at Kafaba in the Northern Region and lynched.

“Since this unfortunate incident, many other women have faced and continue to face various levels of abuse in silence. Unfortunately, we have all stayed silent to these atrocities that are being perpetuated towards these women who are already vulnerable and living in poverty,” she said.

Ms Brew-Ward said the 1992 constitution clearly stated that every person in Ghana, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinion, colour, religion, creed or gender were entitled to the fundamental human rights and freedom of the individual.

“Despite the constitution’s protection to all persons in Ghana, there are hundreds of women in the country who are accused of witchcraft and condemned to a life of extreme violence, isolation.

“These women are banished from their homes and forced to live in ‘witch camps’. These witch camps are a cruel manifestations of gender inequality and violence against women in Ghana,” she said.

For Ms Brew-Ward, witch camps were women’s prisons where inmates had been given no trial, have no right of appeal but have received a life sentence and that it was about time the root causes of these human rights violations were addressed.

“Witchcraft accusation is not a tradition.  Article 26 (2) of the 1992 constitution states that “all customary practices, which dehumanise or are injurious to the physical and mental well-being of a person, are prohibited. Why are we not getting the needed national attention on this practice”, she queried.

These women need to age in peace and not in pieces. We need the political will to fight this menace, therefore ActionAid and its allies will work to ensure this practice becomes a dark history in this country.  

BY KINGSLEY ASARE

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