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Government urged to put in actionable programmes to address the needs of women accused of witchcraft.

The executive director of Songtabaa, an NGO, Hajia Lamnatu Adam has said the number of women accused of witchcraft in the Northern Region is on the ascendency.

According to her the phenomenon has violated the rights of many women and girls who are alleged to be witches and that has robbed them off from contributing to the nation’s development.

The executive director of Songtaba in a press statement copy to Diamond News, to mark this year’s International Day of Rural Women, which is observed annually on 15 October, stated that accusation of witchcraft is a widespread phenomenon in northern region and that has resulted in the existence of five alleged witches’ camps, housing about 200 allege witches who are living in exclusion.

Persons accused of witchcraft are exiled into these camps and they lose all family support systems and dignity. Their social and economic rights are continuously violated. Access to basic livelihood opportunities also becomes a challenge, she added.

Hajia Lamnatu lamented that the discriminatory social norms continue to constrain women in decision-making and political participation in rural households and communities. She added “Women and girls in rural areas lack equal access to productive resources and assets, public services such as education and health care, and infrastructure, including water and sanitation.

The executive director of Songtama maintained that, rural women were still marginalised despite the significant role they play in global development most especially in the areas of food security.

speaking later to Diamond News on via phone Hajia Lamnatu Adam called on government to support the ministry of gender with the necessary resources to enable them put in actionable programmes to address the needs of women accused of witchcraft.

Read the full statement bellow

PRESS RELEASE

CELEBRATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF RURAL WOMEN

Friends from the  media, Songtaba appreciates it much for providing us with the medium to engage with Ghanaians today on the occasion of the International Day of Rural Women celebrated globally every year on the 15th October.

The day is marked to celebrate and recognise the contribution of rural women to national development. This year’s theme is Rural Women and Girls Building Climate Resilience is most relevant as the world is faced with the negative effects or the realities of climate change.

As the world is faced with the critical need to act against climate change, the theme highlights the important role that rural women and girls play in building resilience to mitigate the climate crisis.

As we mark this day, Songtaba draws the attention of Ghanaians and the international community to an age long phenomenon that has violated the rights of many women and girls and have robbed them off their productive years to contributing to the nation’s development. Witchcraft accusation is a widespread phenomenon in northern region resulting in the existence of five alleged witches camps that houses about 200 women living in exclusion. Persons accused of witchcraft are exiled into these camps and they lose all family support systems and dignity. Their social and economic rights are continuously violated. Access to basic livelihood opportunities becomes a challenge to these socially excluded persons who do not have access to food, health and proper shelter.

These Structural barriers and discriminatory social norms continue to constrain women’s decision-making power and political participation in rural households and communities. Women and girls in rural areas lack equal access to productive resources and assets, public services such as education and health care, and infrastructure, including water and sanitation. The situation is even worsened by women who for no faults of theirs are banished into the camps and denied of any productive resources and they disproportionately experience poverty, exclusion and the effects of climate change.

Data available show how significantly women have contributed to the global development especially in the areas of food security by women smallholder farmers and so therefore we will be endangering our nation if we continue to banish women out of our communities to live in excluded camps where they can no longer contribute meaningfully to national develop based on suspicion and allegations that cannot be proven.

The way-forward:

Over a decade, Songtaba have worked with both state and non-state actors as well as the alleged witches to develop strategies to put an end to this phenomenon of witchcraft accusation in the country. A reintegration committee is in place working closely with the camps leaders and gradually reintegrating the women back to their home communities.

In the last two years, Songtaba adopted a new strategy of working with district assemblies to develop Gender Equality and Social Inclusion bylaws to help reduce the incidence of witchcraft accusation and to safeguard the rights of women and girls.  Four districts in the Northern region have fully adopted the bylaws and have started implementing them in their districts. Another set of 5 district assemblies are at various levels of getting the bylaws passed and gazetted.

We therefore use this day to call on the general public to join the campaign to safeguarding the rights of vulnerable women and girls and also requesting the government to show commitment on this critical issue by resourcing the Ministry of gender, children and social protection to clearly put in actionable programmes to address the needs of women accused of witchcraft and the girls who accompany these women to support their chores at the camps and bring an end to these dehumanising cultural practices which violate their rights. We also call on the government to put in plans towards the disbandment of the camps.

Traditional authorities, religious leader and relevant opinion leaders should also openly denounce these practices and show support to reintegration of the women accused of witchcraft.

JOINTLY ISSUED BY: SONGTABA AND THE NETWORK OF ALLEGED WITCHES AND SUPPORTED BY STAR GHANA FOUNDATION. CONTACT SONGTABA ON 0244203791/0246456478.

THANK YOU

Source:AlhassanYakubu|www.Diamondfmonline.com|Ghana

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