How Did T.B Joshua Fail To Predict This Catastrophe?posted Yesterday at 16:44
Get it Bawumia: Self-styled analysis does not equate to evidenceposted Yesterday at 11:01
So long, Kojo Adu-Asare!!!posted Yesterday at 09:23
As The Counting Of The Pink Sheets Begins Today……posted Yesterday at 16:49
What the live telecast of the election petition is not showing usposted Yesterday at 09:22
Why Blame Prophet T.B. Joshua?posted Today at 09:31
My thoughts on the Ghana Music Awardsposted Yesterday at 16:04
T.B. Joshua-the Jesusposted Yesterday at 15:00
Promoting creativity in Ghana’s education - Insights from J.E. Kwegyir Aggrey and T.S. Eliotposted Yesterday at 15:02
The respondents in the Election Petition are wasting timeposted Today at 09:33
Abolishing Witches Camps in Ghana: The Executive and the Legislature Must Pave the Way backposted on Mon, 18 Jun at 09:49
Worldwide the belief in witchcraft and its associated witch hunting is found in many cultures. The average Ghanaian believes in witchcraft and he tends to blame the devil or witchcraft for almost every calamity and sickness that befalls him.
But it can neither be proven scientifically nor adduce in a competent court of jurisdiction. In all societies in Ghana witchcraft or wizardry is an abomination and anybody who confesses to it either under duress or voluntarily is seen as a social misfit and should be treated as such. In the Western world however, witchcraft, sorcerer and magic are used as sources of entertainment. The Harry Porter movie series attest to this. People are even enrolled into universities to pursue a Bachelor Degree in witchcraft in the Western World. Can you imagine a university in Ghana offering such a programme and how Ghanaians will view the academic board and the Vice Chancellor for instituting such a programme?
For several years the Northern Region of Ghana has being in the news on the issue of inhuman treatments that has being meted out to people; especially women who have being allegedly accused of witchcraft and have being banished from their homes, towns or villages and confined to “Witches Camps”. Currently we have about six witches camp in the Northern Region, namely: Kukuo “Witches Camp” in Bimbila, Gnani “Witches Camp” in Yendi, the notorious Gambaga “Witches Camp” in Gambaga, Bonyase, Katinga and Nabule “Witches Camp” in Gushegu. The concept of “Witches Home or Camp” may be cultural but it has outlived its relevance and is dehumanizing in this modern times. No cultural norm or rules of any ethnic group is above the constitution of the Republic of Ghana, which stipulates in Article 17 (1 and 2) that: “All persons shall be equal before the law. A person shall not be discriminated against on grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status.” For people in the name of culture or tradition to maltreat their fellow human beings and banish them from their towns is a clear violation of the 1992 constitution of Ghana which has to be condemned in no uncertain terms, and the law enforcement agencies must institute criminal prosecutions against the suspects. Most of these people who have being banished from their societies are women hence the names of the camps as “Witches Camps or Witches Homes”. But we should not forget that women’s rights are also human rights.
The Gnani “Witches Camp” alone has 945 inmates with an estimated 630 children of school going age who are virtually not schooling because their parents cannot afford to send them to school due to poverty. Those children from these “Witches Camps” who go to school are stigmatized by their colleagues, thinking they could harm them with their parents’ witchcraft. What future have we as a nation got for such children? Over the years there have been calls for the abolishment of these Witches Camps with some people being proponents while others opposed it. Many civil societies and women groups are still trumpeting for the disbanding of these Witches Camps in Ghana. The issue of disbanding witches home is a very complex one, how do you re-integrate these people who have being declared outcasts by their communities? We may do so at the expense of the lives of the very people we are trying to save, since their societies will not accept. Fresh in our memory is a very unfortunate incident in Tema in 2010 when a 72 year old lady lost her way and strayed into someone’s home, she was burnt alive and sent to her untimely grave by five adults who suspected her to be a witch, of which one of them happens to a pastor, who according to bible is to lead sinners to salvation. The case may still be pending in court but what action has the leadership of the pastor’s church taken? Hence maintaining the women in the “Witches Camps” will provide protection and fortification for them.
The roles played by the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Action Aid International Ghana, Human Rights Activists, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Civil Society Organizations and other NGOs towards the abolishment of these “Witches Camps” and enhancing the lives of the inmates cannot be overemphasized. However, in order to solve this issue of “Witches Camp” in Ghana, firstly, the executive must bring a bill before parliament, criminalizing the creation of any “Witches or Wizardry Camps or Homes” in Ghana; and criminalize branding and banishing people as witches or wizards to be passed into law. Taking a clue from the successes chalked from the passage of laws banning Trokosi and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by the noble house. Indeed, a typical example following the passage of the law banning FGM, is an old lady in the village of Mognori in the Bawku Central Constituency of the Upper East Region, who then used to carry out the FGM, declared to the villagers that she was no longer into that business because it was now a criminal offence under laws of Ghana. All effort by some of the villagers to get her back into business proved futile.
Secondly, there is the need to maintain the “Witches Camps” as they are; since the re-integration of their inmates into society will prove very difficult to implement. We as a nation are doing ourselves a disservice as long as we keep referring to these settlements as “Witches Camps”, yet on the other hand we are asking for their abolishment. They should be rebranded by giving them new names. Names such as: Hope, Peace, Eden, New town, Mother Theresa or St. Mary can be given them. In fact, a “Witches Camp” rebranding committee has to be set up by the government and given the task to accomplish within the shortest possible time. In the execution of their task the committee should make wider consultations with all stake holders including the traditional authorities. The new names should be put on sign boards and placed on all the major routes leading to each camp. In addition, to put a stop to the growing number of “witches” in the camps there is the need to educate the entire citizenry on the legal implications of tramping upon the fundamental human rights of others, so that people will change their attitude towards the practice.
Finally, to borrow from Martin Luther King Jr: “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” We as a nation cannot afford to be silent while our less unfortunate sisters suffer in mental and physical slavery called “Witches Camp” in the name of cultural norms.
As long as we don’t enact laws to deal with this social menace and rebrand these so called: “Witches Camp” the problem of “Witches Camps” will continue to bedevil our nation till thy kingdom come.