Thursday, June 26, 2008

Trokosi still persists-Study

A case of a disempowering practice in Ghana where innocent girls and women are made to pay for the ‘sins’ of a family member.

Trokosi still persists-Study
The Ghanaian Times, Thursday, June 26, 2008. Page 21 (Business News)
Francis Tuffour, Ada Foah

Despite the passage of the Criminal Amendment Code/Act in 1998 which criminalises trokosi, servitude practice, it still persists under cover in some communities, a study has shown.

The national study on trokosi practice in Ghana was discussed at a dissemination workshop at Ada Foah, in the Dangme East district of the Greater Accra region on Tuesday.

The trokosi system is a traditional cult slavery practice where young virgin girls are confined to fetish shrines as reparation to deities for wrongs purported to have been committed by a member of a girl’s family. The offences of the ‘incarceration’ range from trivial issues like stealing of a tuber of cassava to grievous matters such as robbery or murder. The truth is claimed to be ascertained at the shrines.

The study was conducted by Sosthens K. Kufogbe, Senior Lecturer, at the Geography Dept of the University of Ghana, Legon, with the support of Australia Aid.

In a presentation at the workshop, Mr. Kufogbe described as sad the continuous existence of the practice in spite of the law that makes it an offence, adding that “people should not pretend that nothing is going on or think the practice has stopped because the law frowns on it.” He said the practice persists due to lack of enforcement of the law by responsible government institutions.

Mr. Kufogbe noted that the research conducted in seven communities in the Volta and Greater Accra regions revealed that 278 of trokosi victims mainly women, are still languishing or are going through such ordeal in various shrines. In North Tongu, in the Volta region, he said 57 trokosi are serving in six shrines, 15 are serving in four shrines in South Tongu district, 21 are in two shrines at Akatsi and 20, are in three shrines in Keta. Others are in Ketu with six shrines 150 trokosis, 10 in two shrines in the Dangme West district, while eight are serving two shrines in the Dangme East district of the Greater Accra region.

He said apart from those who are incarcerated at the shrines, other victims who live outside the shrines, visit to undergo ritual practices. They go at night and at dawn, for fear of being stigmatised or arrested.

Mr. Kufogbe said the study also disclosed that other people visit the shrine for other purposes including seeking protection, political power or pregnancy. He said a dehumanising aspect of the practice is the perpetual reparation which means that, whenever a victim dies, she has to be replaced with another young virgin or woman. The aspect ensures the continuity of the practice and provides perpetual source of young virgins to the shrines, which makes it difficult for them to pursue their education.

According to the report some of the fetish priests have accepted to stop the practice in compliance with the law, but some people still send their relatives to the shrine to undergo trokosi.

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