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CHRAJ trains stakeholders on accessing justice for women accused of witchcraft

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The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has trained relevant stakeholders in four districts of the Northern Region on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), especially relating to elderly women accused of witchcraft.

The trainings, held separately in the East Mamprusi Municipality of the North East Region, Nanumba South District, Gushegu, and Yendi Municipalities, were to strengthen the capacity of relevant stakeholders in the SGBV space.

This is expected to influence change at the community level, including SGBV prevention and access to justice for vulnerable women and children.

The training formed part of the second phase of the “Access to Justice Project on Gender Based Violence Against Elderly Women Alleged as Witches in Ghana” being implemented by CHRAJ with support from Crossroads International.

They were also to increase the capacity of stakeholders around SGBV broadly, and to access justice for elderly women accused of witchcraft.

The second phase of the project was to respond to some key findings and recommendations contained in the baseline study report of the first phase, which was implemented from September 2021 to May 2022.

Mr Joseph Whittal, Commissioner of CHRAJ, who addressed stakeholders in the four districts, expressed the commitment of the state to addressing injustices faced by women alleged as witches.

Old age, coming from poor family background and being widows were all natural processes of growth, he said, adding that they should not be discriminated against.

“The state is determined to use her protective mandate to protect women against witchcraft accusations”.

Mr Whittal called on community members to respect the right of women alleged as witches, “because every citizen has the right to live in any part of the country.”

“The new law on witchcraft accusations has abolished all alleged witches’ camps and condemns the use of threats and blackmail to label or name women as witches”.

He called on the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to work closely with the various alleged witches’ camps and traditional authorities with the view getting inmates of the camps integrated into the community.

The CHRAJ Commissioner advised community members to stop stigmatising the inmates.

Mr Lambert Luguniah, Head, International Cooperation, CHRAJ, said sending women to camps as alleged witches deprived them of property (housing), good standard of living, empowerment and income, education for children, and right to health among others.

Mr Osman Musah, the Gushegu Municipal Coordinating Director, appealed to community members to improve sanitation by observing personal and environmental hygiene to avoid diseases, which they sometimes attributed to witchcraft and accused innocent women.

Participants included members of the security agencies, representatives of civil society organisations, NGOs, Department of Community Development, National Commission for Civic Education, Assembly Members, religious leaders, traditional authorities, and caretakers of alleged witches’ camps.

Topics treated included socio-economic rights, international instruments, national legislation, implications for women accused of witchcraft, women economic empowerment, strategies for empowerment of women experiencing or at-risk of witchcraft allegations, benefits of economic empowerment to women experiencing or at-risk of witchcraft allegations, and access to justice.

Other topics touched on institutions for redress, what can one complain about and where to lodge complaints, powers of CHRAJ, and the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, among others.

Meanwhile, CHRAJ has donated quantities of bags of rice, cooking oil and soap to inmates of the four alleged witches’ camps in the four districts at Gambaga, Kpatinga, Gnani and Kukuo to support their upkeep.

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Source: GNA

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