Let's Unite Against Trokosi


25 July 2008
Posted to the web 25 July 2008

It is quite disturbing that after more than 10 years of stakeholders bringing the obnoxious Trokosi system to national attention, it is still live and kicking.

A recent research on the practice of Trokosi in Ghana sponsored by Australian Aid Agency (AusAID) revealed that the concept of Trokosi has not changed within the practicing communities, 10 years after the enactment of laws by Parliament to abolish the practice. (See full report on page four).

At a National Dissemination Workshop on the Study of Trokosi Practice in Ghana on Wednesday Mercy, a liberated Trokosi narrated the story of how at a tender age of eight, her parents condemned her to a Trokosi camp to atone for the sins of her aunt.

On several occasions when she tried to escape, she was unsuccessful; in part because when she returned home her parents escorted her back her to the shrine.

With no one to turn for help, even in the era of democracy, when there ought to have been avenues for redress, Mercy began her condemned life as a Trokosi, where she woke at dawn and cleaned the shrine and worked on the farm. Worse, the priest sexually abused her, leaving her with four children to fend for. "The Trokosi system is not good," she told the gathering. "My generation and the generation before mine missed out in education."

This is the story of one of several thousands of girls and women have suffered and continue to suffer such inhuman treatment under the guise of culture and tradition. What is more disturbing is that in this day of some much noise about human rights and good governance, this inimical practice is being practiced with impunity, partly because those charged with protecting the dignity of every one in this country do not want to hurt the sensibilities of the perpetrators. To add to that even a number of intellectuals who hail from the areas that are practicing the system and ought to know better see nothing wrong with it.

Is it any surprising that to date, there are no credible statistics on the number of women and girls still being held at the various shrines .

We all need to be concerned about this practice, especially when females tend to bear the brunt of most inimical cultural practices. Such laws which debase our humanity cannot co-exist with our constitution which guarantees freedom for all.

Ghana has earned so much international fame for promoting human rights and freedom, but how can we reconcile the so-called international acclamation with the fact that several women and children are still being held bondage by an outmoded cultural practice.

We need to move beyond research and workshops on the issue and take decisive, executive, legislative and judicial actions to stop this cultural practice that is reminding us of the gory days of slave trade.