Fifty-five women tagged as witches and camped at six isolated camps in the Northern Region have being liberated from their bondage.
This followed the disbandment of the Bonyase witch camp located in the Central Gonja District.The exercise was facilitated by the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection in collaboration with Action Aid Ghana, Songtaba and other civil society organizations.
The liberated alleged witches underwent purification and other traditional rights ahead of the official disbandment.
They were drawn from the Gnani, Kpatinga, Kukuo, Naabuli and Gambaga witch camps.
All of them were expected to be reintegrated back to their original communities where they were banished under the pretence of witchcraft.
At a historic ceremony held at Bonyase, Minister for Gender and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur described the step as another milestone in the country’s human rights advocacy.
She promised that her ministry in collaboration with its development partners will continue to zealously safeguard the liberated alleged witches’ fundamental human rights.
According to her, government was already supporting them through pro-poor programmes such as the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), the National Health Insurance Scheme, MASLOC and LESDEP.
She said government was committed to promoting gender equality in all spheres of the Ghanaian society.
Nana Oye Lithur revealed that over 500 children and dependants of the alleged witches had no access to education at the isolated communities.
She commended Action Aid Ghana and its allied bodies for formulating a blueprint which government adopted for the disbandment and subsequent reintegration exercise.
As a gradual process, Nana Oye Lithur gave the assurance that the other five alleged witches’ camps will soon be disbanded.
She donated a tricycle, two corn mills and other valuables to the caretaker of the disbanded Bonyase camp for her family’s upkeep.
She later unveiled a bust to mark the end of the Bonyase alleged witches camp.
District Chief Executive for Central Gonja, Shiraz Ibn Yasin promised that the reintegrated women will not return to the Bonyase camp.
He implied that inmates of the disbanded Bonyase alleged witches camps migrated from the Dagbon State.
Shiraz Ibn Yasin therefore appealed to Dagbon chiefs to take a cue from their counterparts in Gonjaland who don’t entertain such inhumane practices.
He complained about the deplorable road network leading to Bonyase and called for central government’s immediate action.
Deputy Country Director of Action Aid Ghana, Alhaji Saani Yakubu on the sidelines told Citi News management of the organization was delighted its brainchild materialized.
He thanked government for developing the political goodwill to completely disband all the six alleged witches’ camps beginning with that of the Bonyase camp.
Alhaji Saani Yakubu said Action Aid, Songtaba and its allied bodies will continue fend for the living of the alleged witches till the disbandment and reintegration exercise was completed.
He extolled Action Aid Ghana’s development partners for sustaining the organization’s programmes geared towards discarding the alleged witches’ phenomenon.
Alhaji Saani made a passionate appeal to residents of the original communities to wholeheartedly accept them and stop discrimination.
Programmes Director of Songtaba, Lamnatu Adams said disbandment of the Bonyase alleged witches camp marked the beginning of stopping the ostracization of aged women suspected to be witches.
She bemoaned myriad problems which she said have deepened the alleged witches’ frustrations.
She said under no circumstance should any woman be banished on account of suspected to be a witch.
Witches or wizards as part of wide spread superstitious believes are persons perceived to possess supernatural powers which are used to cause all kinds of evil.
There were solidarity messages from Ibis Ghana and the Young Female Parliamentarians group.
By: Abdul Karim Naatogmah/citifmonline.com/Ghana