Aspects of culture that fuel abuse against alleged witches need to be reassessed – Prof Azumah

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The founding executive director of the Sanneh Institute has called for the examination of cultures, beliefs and customs that aim to abuse vulnerable older women.

According to Professor John Azumah, some cultural practices that currently exist in the country still allow women in this predicament to be subjected to torture under the guise of witchcraft.

“Indeed, Ghana is a very religious country, just like many other African countries. It is a deeply religious, deeply traditional and cultural belief. And we hold very dear to our traditions and our religions and our culture, yet some of these things are harmful.

“As we can see lives have been destroyed and families have been broken up, countless families, countless lives have been shattered in the north and across the country,” he said.

Professor Azumah was speaking JoyNews’ The Probe which focused on human rights abuses: a case of alleged witches.

He insisted that the canker will continue to exist if steps are not taken to eliminate these old-fashioned aspects of some Ghanaian traditions.

Noting that education is not enough to nip the practice of witch-hunting in the bud, the executive director called for strict legislation that will act as a deterrent for others.

“These are traditions and beliefs that we have to confront and deal with. No one is attacking, I believe no one is attacking tradition, numbers, or package culture, but if culture or tradition can cause such harm to individuals, to vulnerable people, especially the most vulnerable, then we we have to wake up and do something.

On Thursday, July 23, 2020, a 90-year-old woman, Akua Denteh, was lynched after a traditional priestess in Kafaba near Salaga in East Gonja Municipality accused her of being a witch.

In a video that went viral, the deceased was slapped, kicked and caned, she became unconscious and died.

The incident was heavily criticized by Ghanaians, including President Nana Akufo-Addo, who joined the masses in condemning the horrific murder of the 90-year-old.

The president who called the act barbaric and urged security personnel to ensure swift justice in the matter.

However, two years later, justice has still not been served as the case is still before the courts.


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