The Story of banished ‘witches’
By Spectator Staff Writer
THE story of banished women in Ghana has caught the ear of the international community, leading to some well-meaning interventions, one of which is spearheaded by the ‘Southern Sector Youth and Women’s Empowerment Network’ (SOSYWEN).
In August 2009, for instance, the Embassy of Denmark in Accra (DFE) approved funding for the implementation of the ‘SOSYWEN Witches Camp Integration Project’.
This project which is being implemented by SOSYWEN over a two-year period is in collaboration with a number of public institutions such as the District Assembles, the CHRAJ, Information Services Department, traditional authorities, the Police and selected local NGOs and CBOs in the Northern Region.
Background and justification:
Belief in witchcraft in the Northern Region of Ghana has serious ‘impact on lives of women, especially the aged who are often accused.
Those accused women suffer violence and even death. They are subsequently banished and they find themselves staying in the “witches” camps with little children, mostly girls, who help them with basic tasks.
The children are denied formal school education because they are not accepted by the society and especially by the local schools. The camps lack basic school infrastructure and other social services.
Goals and objectives:
The overall goal of the project is to curtail the practice of maltreating and abusing alleged witches (mostly women) and advocate the rights of these women in parts of the country especially the Northern Region in order to ensure the integration of such women into normal
a) Making the Ghanaian public in general and the Northern region residents In particular aware of the social economic and legal implications of the practices. Education and awareness creation will result in a change of attitude.
b) Advocating for government intervention, law enforcement and the capacity building in gender equality in the affected communities, will bring on board both private and public institutions to help achieve the aims of the project.
The expected beneficiaries of the project include marginalized women, and adolescents in the 'witches’ camps. The project targets policy makers and traditional leaders through awareness creation and workshops aimed at reintegration of inmates of the 'witches’ camps into normal society.
A planned high profile launch was planned for the middle of November 2010 and involved members of parliament, Northern Regional House of chiefs, traditional authorities, the media, district and municipal assemblies, Chief executives, school children, some of the inmates, selected diplomatic missions and embassies, the Police service, government ministries, CHRAJ, religious organisations, as well as Civil society organisations, just to mention a few.
As part of the awareness creation drive, THE SPECTATOR will from next week senalize some of the well-researched articles by students of various institutions on how to tackle the issue of banished women who are labelled as witches. Watch out for the eye-opening series.
The expected beneficiaries of the project include marginalized women and adolescents in the “witches” camps. The project targets policy makers and traditional leaders through awareness creation and workshops aimed at reintegration of inmates of the “witches” camps into normal society.
The Spectator Page: 22 5th March, 2011