The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the Parliamentary Select Committee on Gender, Children and Social Protection have initiated steps to help address the issue of witchcraft accusation that has led to the establishment of witch camps in the northern part of the country.
The initiative as a long-term measure, will also lead to the reintegration of the alleged witches into their communities and the subsequent disbandment of the camps.
Consequently, the Gender Minister, Mrs Cynthia Morrison, in conjunction with members of the Parliamentary Committee has undertaken a working visit to some of the witches camps in the Northern Region to collate data to prepare a report that would be presented to Parliament for debate to help fashion out a policy to permanently address the issue of witchcraft accusation in the country.
The team visited the Gnani and the Kpatinga witches camps in the Yendi and Gushegu municipalities in the Northern Region last Tuesday and interacted with the inmates to know their plight and concerns.
Interacting with journalists during the visit, Mrs Morrison said the visit was to help the ministry come out with a well-informed policy and comprehensive strategy to help address the issue.
She said as part of measures to help inmates of the witches camps to improve on their livelihoods and their subsequent reintegration, the Gender Ministry would roll out a skills training programme to enable them to earn a living and also provide support for those who were into farming.
The minister said that although some of the inmates said they preferred staying at the witches camps which they saw as a safe haven, the ministry would work with them to find a way out to assist them.
Human rights abuse
The Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Gender, Children and Social Protection, Dr Kojo Appiah-Kubi, expressed concern that the accusations of witchcraft led to human rights abuses, deprivation and poverty which was of great concern to the committee.
“Witchcraft is just a belief and figment of our own imagination, but the witchcraft is not the problem, but the witchcraft accusations, which in our part of the world have led to the creation of witches camps,” he stated.
“We are, therefore, here to inform ourselves about the environment, to get educated and to gather enough data which will be used to prepare our report to Parliament,” he stated.
Earlier in the day, the Gender Minister and members of the Parliamentary Committee paid a courtesy call on the Overlord of Dagbon, Ya-Na Abukari II at the Gbewaa Palace in Yendi.
The Ya-Na commended the minister and members of the Parliamentary Select Committee for their decision to visit the camps, adding that the issue of accusation of witchcraft was worrying and pledged his support in tackling it in the area.
The secretary to the chief of the Gnani community, Wajuu Mali Thomas and an elder of the Kpatinga community, Mr Adam Musah, in separate interactions with the minister and the committee said the inmates in the witches camps in their respective communities were enrolled onto the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme and were paid some money to support their living.
However, they said, for some time now the payment had ceased, which had made it difficult for them to provide for their basic needs.
They, therefore, appealed to the minister to ensure that those who qualified to be enrolled onto the LEAP programme were assisted to do so.
Source: General News