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03.07.2004 General News

Ban Yehewessi, like Trokosi - NGO

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Hohoe, Jul 03, GNA - Universal Peace for Humanity (UPH), a Hohoe based Non-governmental Organization for the promotion of women's rights has called for the proscription of Yehwessi, which is similar to Trokosi. Miss Cynthia Adjatey, Vice-President of UPH, who made the call at a news conference at Hohoe on Friday, said Yewhessi, which means wife of a god, involved the pledging of baby girls as devotees to the Yehwe shrines through whose intervention they were said to be born.

She said it was a practice associated with traditional beliefs, in which a woman is either forced or led into devoting herself to the Yewhe cult through worship, service, binding obligations, ascetic life and total subordination to a traditional priest.

Miss Adjatey said after their initiation the devotes are kept in shrines for between one and four years, during which they are scarred on their back and face and taught to speak a particular dialect associated with the shrine.

She said the devotees who are required to dress in a white cloth only are allowed to live the shrine after under-going a send-off ceremony that consisted of offerings to the gods.

Miss Adjartey said the devotees remained bound to the gods, reduced to asterism and forever prohibited from schooling as well as converting themselves into another religion.

She said it was therefore crucial that the practice was tackled with the same seriousness as Trokosi.

Miss Adjatey said a Benin based women's group, SOS, assisted the NGO to extend its research to Togo and Benin where Yewhessi was also practiced. Mr Ben K. Agbakini, Hohoe District Director of CHRAJ, said the research was aimed at unravelling the mystery surrounding certain cultural practices including Yewhessi.

"If our societies are to develop as third world nations, we must be prepared to do away with some cultural, traditional and animist practices that inhibit progress, he said.

He said the 1992 constitution guarantees freedom of worship and association.

CHRAJ was concerned about the situation where the girl child is debarred from exercising her freedom to choose her own religion as a result of the practice of a cult, Mr Agbakini said and called for the abolition of the Yewhessi.