Actionaid Ghana, an NGO, has called for the criminalisation of witchcraft accusations in the country.
The organisation wants parliament to enact a law that would make such accusations illegal and also lead to the prosecution of perpetrators or people who accused women of witchcraft and further banished them to witch camps.
At an event to climax the 16 days of activism as observed by the organisation in the Upper West Region, Programmes Manager, Ms Abiba Nibaradun, who read a communique on behalf of the NGO, said the law was necessary to protect women accused of witchcraft from physical abuse or getting eternally banished from their homes to witch camps with no right of appeal.
The event at Wa on Friday was on the theme “Ending femicide in Ghana: a call for anti-witchcraft law,” and was initiated by a walk through the principal streets of Wa by participants who displayed placards with messages that called for an end to violence against women.
“In fact, the existence of witch camps in the 21st century alone is a cruel manifestation of gender inequality and violence against women in Ghana, “Ms Nibaradun stated.
Recounting abuses against women accused of witchcraft, she mentioned that about two years ago, a group of people cruelly lynched the late madam Akua Denteh who was accused of witchcraft at Kafaba in the Northern region, and said the victim died cruelly.
“Since this condemnable incident, many other women and girls have faced and continue to face various levels of abuse in silence, unfortunately, we have all stayed silent to the wanton and shameless atrocities against women and girls who are already vulnerable and living in poverty”, she lamented.
As a matter of urgency and extreme priority, she mentioned that the nation needed laws that would make the practice unattractive by criminalising and prosecuting individuals involved in such human rights abuses.
“The country needs to muster political will to curb this menace: we cannot continue to turn a blind eye and engage in talk shops without taking bold actions! This cruelty must stop! Old age is not a crime and witchcraft accusations with their attendant brutalities against women cannot be excused on the pedestal of tradition”, she chanted.
The Programmes Manager believed that the 50 per cent cut in budgetary allocation to the Domestic Violence Fund from GH¢2 million in 2022 to GH¢1 million in the 2023 budget was a slap on social protection and would lead to reduced effort at protecting women.
Receiving the communique, the Chief Director at the Regional Co-ordinating Council, Mr Peter Mala, described as unfortunate the continuous perpetration of abuse against women and called for a change in attitude and more respect for women.
He assured the organisation that he was going to send copies of the statement to all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the issues raised in the communique got addressed with the urgency it deserved.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, WA