The Executive Director of the Sanneh Institute, Professor John Azumah, has said that the time has come for a more radical action to be taken to protect women from so-called witch hunters.
According to him, despite the efforts of government, state actors, and non-governmental organisations to protect women, much of the feats chalked have come to naught.
Speaking on JoyNews’ The Law, on Sunday, he explained that instead of seeing a significant reduction in witchcraft accusations over the years, the opposite is Ghana’s current reality.
“We have done research, we have visited all of the camps up North. I have sat with the accused women, I have sat with the traditional priests who perform the rituals, I have met with some of the chiefs, we’ve spoken to them, and we’ve made all kinds of petitions to various government agencies.
“And as you said it is so serious. A lot of work has been done in the past. It’s all been conferences and meetings, and just last year, when the 90-year-old lady was killed, a big conference was convened at Kempinski with a lot of chiefs that were flown in from different parts of the country. People read statement after statement, a lot of NGOs are doing a lot of work in this area, but nothing is changing,” he said.
He added that “Our research shows that there is a lot of increase in accusations, the populations in the witch camps are increasing, so we feel like something radical has to be done.”
The radical proposition on the table currently is a bill to jail witch-hunters and witch-accusers.
The bill seeks to criminalise the declaration, accusation, naming or labeling of another person as a witch; to prohibit a person from employing or soliciting anyone to accuse, name, label, indicate, or declare another person as a witch and provide for related matters.
The Private Members’ Bill sponsored by MPs for Madina, Pusiga, and Wa East Constituencies, Francis-Xavier Kojo Sosu, Hajia Laadi Ayii Ayamba, and Dr. Godfred Seidu Jasaw respectively, is in furtherance of an earlier effort by the 7th Parliament to introduce this law, pursuant to a Petition by the Sanneh Institute dated August 4, 2021.
Explaining the necessity for the Bill, Professor Azumah noted that over the years, the lack of a radical stance against the practice of witch-hunting has simply led to governments paying lip service to the vulnerable women.
This, he says, must change.
“And if we continue doing what we’ve been doing, that when there is an item of witchcraft in the news then politicians are running to the camps, then churches are running there to give some relief aid and then everybody goes back to normal as usual until there is the next lynching or attack.
“And that is why we committed that we’re not going to wait for the next lynching or attack. We’re going to commit our time and our energies to fighting this menace and we want to bring our lawmakers on board because we believe strongly that these women are the most vulnerable in society, and in any civilized society one of the big marks is how you protect your most vulnerable.
“If you don’t protect your most vulnerable it means that we live in the Stone Age where we believe in the survival of the fittest. The most vulnerable are those in the camps, they’re women, they’re older, they’re poor,” he said.
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