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26.06.2008 Social News

Trokosi practice still popular in Ghana-Research

By GNA
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Sogakope (V/R), June 26, GNA - A new research finding has concluded that the controversial “trokosi” system is still active in the country despite being outlawed in 1998.
The research, sponsored by the Australian Development Agency (AUSIAD), said there are now 278 girls in servitude in those shrines after 3,500 out of 5,000 were liberated in 2003.
This was revealed at a workshop in Sogakope on Wednesday to disseminate the findings of the research among trokosi fetish priests, community leaders and chiefs, social and human rights groups, educational workers and the media.
The research cited the extensive advocacy works by social groups particularly International Needs Ghana (ING) leading to the liberation and rehabilitation of several victims and their children and the modernization of the practice in some shrines.
The trokosi system is a traditional cult practice in which young virgin girls are confined to fetish shrines as reparation to deities for wrongs allegedly committed by their family members.
The practice abounds in the Dangbe East and Dangbe West, Akatsi, Keta, North and South Tongu and Ketu North and South districts.
The research consultant, Mr. Sustenance Kufogbe, a lecturer in Geography and Renewable Resource Department, University of Ghana, Legon said the research was to re-examine current perceptions about the practice, identify current number of victims, review intervention strategies and make recommendations.

Mr. Kufogbe said shrines in Ketu South and Ketu North districts together are the most active, accounting for more than 53.9 per cent of the estimated 278 victims.
He expressed worry that despite the huge intervention packages it received, North Tongu District still accounts for more than 20.5 per cent of victims, while Dangbe East and Dangbe West, South Tongu and Akatsi districts recorded the lowest figures.
Mr. Kufogbe recommended a critical look at and enforcement of the law criminalizing the practice to make it more effective.
He said mistrust in the formal judicial system appeared to make trokosi practice a more popular option for seeking social justice by those who resort to it.
Mr Kufogbe also called for advocacy and civic education to target all stakeholders including those communities which are home to the practice.
Reverend Walter Bimpong, Executive Director, ING, in reaction to comments about the organization's shortcomings in its advocacy work, appealed to community leaders and chiefs to air their reservations for a joint approach for the reform of the practice.

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