The Witchcraft Dilemma: A Deep Dive into Ghana’s Struggles with Witch Accusations and Violence
In the town of Janga, North East Ghana, a 60-year-old woman fell victim to a deadly shooting in her own home due to allegations of witchcraft. This incident has sparked renewed concerns about the efficacy of laws designed to protect individuals falsely accused of witchcraft and the deeply entrenched superstitions still prevalent in society.
The fatal incident reportedly involved a young male assailant, related to the victim, who shot the elderly woman in her home. According to Zakari Iddi, the victim’s brother-in-law, the woman was in her room when the young man dragged her to the entrance and shot her. He revealed that she had been suspected of witchcraft. Following the tragic event, the woman’s body was transported to WaleWale Hospital for an autopsy.
Legislation Against Witchcraft Accusations: Is it Enough?
In the wake of the Janga incident, questions have arisen about the effectiveness of Ghana’s 2020 law aimed at safeguarding individuals accused of witchcraft. This law, enacted following the lynching of a 90-year-old woman accused of witchcraft in Kafaba, criminalizes the abuse or banishment of individuals from their communities due to such accusations.
The Kafaba incident, which took place in July 2020, triggered widespread condemnation from local and international human rights organizations. However, despite the protective legislation, the recent killing in Janga underscores the looming threat of violence and death for those accused of witchcraft, casting doubt on the law’s efficacy in preventing such atrocities.
Witchcraft Beliefs: A Pervasive Issue
Belief in witchcraft is pervasive in Ghana, with those accused often banished, and sometimes even killed. While the government has taken steps to address such issues, including disbanding witch camps alleged to exploit and subject inhabitants to squalid living conditions, these actions have had unintended consequences. Alleged witches, forced to return to communities that ostracized them, are left vulnerable to persecution and violence, as evidenced by the recent murder in Janga.
Despite the widespread belief in witchcraft, efforts to eradicate this harmful superstition have lagged. The Ghanaian authorities and NGOs have yet to invest in educating the local population about the fallacy of witchcraft. Instead, efforts have focused on dismantling facilities that once served as places of refuge for those accused, essentially addressing the effects rather than the root cause of the problem.
Addressing the Root Cause
There is a pressing need for a comprehensive campaign to dispel fears and misconceptions about witchcraft. Such an initiative should involve all levels of government, traditional chiefs, religious leaders, and even soothsayers and shrine priests. The focus should be on promoting science, reason, and critical thinking as tools for understanding misfortunes, diseases, accidents, and deaths, rather than resorting to superstitious beliefs.
The Ghanaian authorities need to ensure that those linked to witch persecution and killing are held responsible and accountable, and that mechanisms are in place to prevent further incidents. It is crucial that Ghana, and indeed other countries grappling with similar issues, address the root cause of witchcraft accusations, ensuring the safety and dignity of all citizens, regardless of age or gender.
Subscribe to BNN Breaking
Sign up for our daily newsletter covering global breaking news around the world.