The practice of magical skills, spells, and abilities is deeply ingrained in the Ghanaian culture – witches and wizards are believed to hold powers for fortunes or mishaps, hence they are mostly held responsible for natural disasters, accidents, bareness and the like in some African societies. In Ghana, although this belief is widespread, stories that highlight the detection and abuse of accused women and men are mostly from northern Ghana, reinforcing the false notion that the practice only exists there.
While the government of Ghana has on several occasions made efforts to tackle the abuse of women accused of witchcraft, their attempts to close down so-called witch camps – where people accused of witchcraft run to for safety – have come to naught.
Some of these settlements are believed to have been set up about 100 years ago.
The renewed calls come after a 90-year-old woman was lynched after being accused of being a witch. She didn’t survive, but the women who do are sent or run away to settlements called “witch camps”. In 2011, the government announced it would shut the camps, but those efforts have come to nought. A 2012 report by ActionAid appealed to the government not to rush into closing the camps as they are a “safe haven” for the women. Since the issue has now resurfaced, the government and gender ministry are being urged to move on shutting the camps and the so-called healing centres where women are “identified” as being involved in witchcraft.