WHAT I USED TO KNOW: THE ROAD TO GHANA'S WITCHES CAMPS
By the Southern Sector Youth and Women’s Empowerment Network (SOSYWEN) Ghana
Narrated by Zenabu Sakibu, Coordinator of SOSYWEN
Forced to flee their homes and loved ones following false witchcraft accusations, the women in this film face a life of misery, desperate poverty and deplorable living conditions. They won’t see their families again, probably not for the rest of their lives. Many have no idea how many years they’ve spent in the 'witches' camps. And it’s all because of some misfortune of a family member or neighbour, or a dream that someone’s had. The women are blamed for the misfortune, such as a death in the family, economic hardship, even the death of their own child. Once the finger has been pointed and the accusation made, the lynch mobs beat and abuse the accused woman who flees for her life to one of Ghana’s ‘witches’ camps where she believes she may find some protection. The women are stigmatised and outcasts from society.
At a recent meeting with various stakeholders in Accra, the government of Ghana has made a firm commitment to disbanding the 6 'witches camps' in the Northern region and re-integrating the inmates into their communities.
It's SOSYWEN's opinion that it is a good initiative to want to close down these camps but the real issue remains that there needs to be a lot of education in the communities before these women can be sent back. It is a cultural practice that has existed for decades and won't go away unless people are made to realise it's negative implications on their development. Sending them food and clothing is only a temporary solution to the problem. There is a need for a holistic approach to this problem, an approach which involves all stakeholders including the communities from which these women are expelled. It is only when their communities accept the message of change that these women can feel that they would be safe when they return.
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This Project advocates for the rights of women under the constitution of Ghana and to curb the practice of beliefs and superstitions of people in Northern Ghana that infringe upon the rights of some women by accusing them of being witches and subsequently lynching them or banishing them to live in “witches” camps.