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19.08.2005 Regional News

Traditional authorities urged to assist address witchcraft abuses

GNA

Tamale, Aug. 19, GNA - Traditional authorities have been asked to assist civil society organizations to address the issue of witchcraft and human rights abuse, especially of women in the society.

The chiefs and land owners (Tindana) could play a prominent role in this respect by ensuring that an effective mechanism for the management of the concept of witchcraft in the society was handled with circumspection.

This suggestion was contained in a research presentation by Mrs Janet A. Mohammed, Director of the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), in

"A study into efforts at managing the witchcraft issue in Northern Ghana", at a workshop organised by Action Aid Ghana and the Anti-witchcraft Campaign Coalition in Tamale on Friday.

The workshop is sponsored by the German Development Service (DED). She said it was important for the (Tindana) and "civil society organizations to work together to understand the socio-cultural systems that underlie the traditional management practices used in various societies to address witchcraft issues.

She said the research showed that there were about five "witchcraft camps" situated at Gambaga, in the East Mamprusi District, Gnyaani in the Yendi District, Kpatinga in the Gushegu-Karaga District, Kukuo in the Nanumba District and Bonuase in the West Gonja District.

Mrs Mohammed said Action Aid Ghana had so far organised 27 sensitisation workshops in the Northern Region to educate the people on the need to respect the fundamental human rights of other citizens.

The research indicated that residents in the "witchcraft camps" in the various communities number about 30 to over one thousand eight hundred people, majority of whom were women.

It also noted that there were gender twists to the accusation of witchcraft where women had invariably been labelled for causing the death of people in their communities.

Alhaji Iddrisu Adam, Tamale Metropolitan Chief Executive, said the causes of witchcraft could not be effectively handled if proper attention was not given to the social system in which the society operates.

He appealed to the public to desist from describing any old lady as a witch and urged traditional authorities to "sit up and not allow people to dictate to you who is a witch or wizard".

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