CHRAJ calls for extension of LEAP to “witches’ Camps”

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), on Wednesday called on the government to include supposed witches at the “witches’ camps” on the list of beneficiaries of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme.

CHRAJ expressed worry that despite the dehumanizing treatment meted out to such women as a result of their classification as “witches”, they were thrown onto secluded areas without amenities to cater for themselves.

It said victims of such human rights abuse were mostly elderly women who could hardly fend for themselves adding that their inclusion on the LEAP would help mitigate their plight.

This was contained in a statement delivered on behalf of the Commissioner of CHRAJ, Justice Emile Short, by Ms Josephine Akaba, Senior Research Officer, at the opening of a day’s photo exhibition on the conditions at the “witches’ camps” organised by the Southern Sector Youth and Women’s Empowerment Network (SOSYWEN), a non-governmental organisation in Accra.

The photo exhibition, opened by Mr Jan Poulsen, Deputy Head of the Danish Embassy in Ghana, was a collection of everyday activities of the supposed witches at the camps aimed at drawing the attention of the authorities to the living conditions of the women to solicit action to stop the practice.

Witches camps are secluded villages without amenities in the Northern Region where women suspected of witchcraft, causing mysterious deaths, misfortune for other individuals, among others, are thrown to separate them from the rest of the community.

The practice, which has been in existence for ages, is common in Ngani, Kukuo and Gambaga Old Women’s Home in Yendi, North Nanumba and East Mamprusi respectively in the Northern Region.

Statistics show that currently, 750 women and 400 children live in Ngani camp, 130 women and 171 children live in Kukuo camp and 86 women and 36 children live in the Gambaga Old Women’s Home.

These areas have no amenities like water and health facilities.

Mr Short said: “The Commission is most unhappy about the manual labour that elderly women in these places have to do in order to make a living.

“On the issue of access to health facilities, even though inmates could access health care most of them are not National Health Insurance Scheme card holders and have to pay hospital fees themselves.”

Mr Short said the Commission was not happy that despite anti-witch campaigns, the practice was still ongoing and women were being banished from their places of residence and thrown into “witches’ camps”.

The Commission therefore called for efforts to quicken the pace of reintegration of the victims into their normal communities and commended SOSYWEN on its efforts to reintegrate the women.

Hajia Hawawu Boya, Deputy Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs, called for a collective effort to curb the practice.

She said even though the Ministry together with its partners had done a lot in terms of sensitization and advocacy to curb the practice it was continuing.

“The challenge is that in every situation where religion and tradition come to play, it is difficult to put a stop to the practice,” she noted.

She called for commitment to provide schools, hospitals and other social amenities in the camps for the benefit of the inmates, some of whom had their children and grandchildren relocating to the camps.

Mr Poulsen called for a stop to the practice saying it contravened the constitution of the Ghana.

He suggested that authorities formed alliance with stakeholders in the communities to find ways to stop the practice.

Ms Zenabu Sakibu, Coordinator of SOSYWEN, said the exhibition formed part of a wider project by the NGO dubbed “The ‘Witches’ Camp Integration Project”.

It is to raise awareness about the abuse of women in relation to witchcraft, the poor conditions in which the inmates live and the need to integrate them into normal community life.

She said: “Any culture or belief that dehumanizes a particular gender, race or colour is unsustainable in the long run.”

Ms said the practice should be discouraged because it undermined investment in the development of a people, community or a nation.

She thanked sponsors and other partners for supporting the project.

Source: GNA

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.