Witch Camps In Ghana? Abolish Them


The Northern Region of Ghana houses six “witches’ camps,” where women who are accused of witchcraft are detained and subject to inhumane treatment.

Ghanaian leaders and civil society groups met in the nation’s capital, Accra, last week to develop a plan to abolish the witches’ camps in the northern region, where at least 1,000 women and 700 children who have been accused of sorcery are currently living in exile.

An Indictment On The Conscience Of Our Society

From The Christian Science Monitor:

Deputy Minister for Women and Children’s Affairs Hajia Hawawu Boya Gariba said the ministry would be doing everything that it could to ensure the practice of families and neighbors banishing women from communities whom they suspected of being witches is abolished by developing legislation that would make it illegal to accuse someone of being a witch and gradually closing down camps and reintegrating women back into their communities.

“This practice has become an indictment on the conscience of our society,” Ms. Gariba said at the conference called Towards Banning “Witches” Camps. “The labeling of some of our kinsmen and women as witches and wizards and banishing them into camps where they live in inhuman and deplorable conditions is a violation of their fundamental human rights.”

Many of the “witches” are elderly women who have been accused of inflicting death, misfortune and calamity on their neighbors and villages through sorcery, witchcraft or “juju,” a term used throughout West Africa. The “accused witches,” as they are sometimes referred to, live in tiny thatched mud huts, and have limited access to food and must fetch water from nearby streams and creeks.

Forced To Flee

An elderly woman named Bikamila Bagberi who has lived in Nabule witch camp in Gushegu a district in the Northern Region for the past 13 years, spoke at the conference about how she was forced to leave her village.

Bagberi’s nephew, her brother-in-law’s son, had died unexpectedly and after the village soothsayer said she caused the death of the child her family tried make her confess to murdering him through sorcery. She said that when she refused she was beaten with an old bicycle chain, and later her nephew’s family members rubbed Ghanaian pepper sauce into her eyes and open wounds.

When asked whether she could return back to her village she said the family couldn’t bring her back into the community because of the fear that she will harm others.

As In 17th Century England, So In 21st Century Ghana

This tale reflects eerily many of the accounts of women hanged for witchcraft in England in the seventeenth century. An unusually bad harvest, the sighting of a raven near an old woman’s house, the unexpected death of a child, a smallpox outbreak, were all possible reasons to label a woman a “witch” and condemn her to death.

In Ghana, innocence or guilt is determined by how a chicken dies; in England it was determined by tying a woman’s hands and feet together and tossing her into a river. If she sank, she was proclaimed innocent, but by then she was already dead. If she floated, she was proclaimed guilty and condemned to death.

The idea that similar arbitrary reasoning still exists in the 21st century is both alarming and tragic.

Take Action Now

If you too consider this practice outrageous, click here to sign our petition asking the Parliament of Ghana to pass laws that will disband the camps and to support education to change people’s attitudes toward the practice of detaining women for witchcraft.


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Photo Credit: povertyactionorg


Susan B.
Susan B4 years ago

I meant to say "The poll shows that 2% answered No."

Susan B.
Susan B4 years ago

The answer shows 2% answered No. It still amazes me that, in the 21st Century, people still believe in gods and witches.

Roger B.
Roger Bird6 years ago

Yes, Judith, we have a camp for racists and bigots. It is called Berkeley.

Judith Corrigan
Judith Corrigan6 years ago

Gladly signed.Have they got a camp for rasicts and bigots?

Joy Jin
Joy Jin6 years ago

That's horrible. I wish that these camps were abolished and these women wouldn't be slandered and tortured by their community.

Teresa E.
Teresa E6 years ago

God bless them and help them rid themselves of violence and superstition.

Marc Beauchamp
Marc Beauchamp6 years ago

Then the solution is to share the Gospel of Christ with the ignorant and stupid ones( yes- stupid)as the Lord of LOVE and Light came down long ago and He spoke words of love and did deeds of good and went about destroying the works of the devil and no one could resist HIM --my Bible says so in Acts. So if you flog someone with a bicycle chain and rub pepper sauce in their eyes when they have not cursed you then whose spell are you really under? It is not the God of love and truth and mercy that is for sure!

Gloria Morotti
Gloria Morotti6 years ago

This situation makes my blood boil.

The word "witch" or "Wicca" means wise woman, and it was those women who were targeted for death by the Catholic church from the 14th century until, apparently, today. (The church wanted people to use their own doctors, who killed people. They are still doing it. The "witches" were just women who were wise in herbal lore and midwifery.) Now everybody's in on it.

As far as I'm concerned, those women are better off being isolated from the population who has judged them.

Past Member
Tsmmy S6 years ago

Vernon C.- good points made and I agree we should not force our beliefs onto other cultures. Intolerance of diversity comes in many flavors - Telling people in Africa what to believe spiritually is not the way to introduce freedom. Besides some pagan groups in the US and UK believe in witches although the term is used by both genders.

If I were the elderly woman featured in the article the last place I would want to go is back to the people who beat me with a chain and rubbed pepper in my wounds - How is forcing her to go back to the people who physically harmed her any more humane than forcing her to live in the witches camp? After living some where for 13 years surly she has made friends and a home there -It seems cruel to force her to uproot again just to make ourselves feel better - If the conditions are the problem with these camps perhaps directing the energy toward improving the conditions would be abetter way to go.

Personally I think blaming small pox and poor harvest on some poor old lady is insane - but if that is the way people in Africa what to be then who am I to tell them they can't. "White countries" such as the US have sufficient social problems in our own back yards.

It is my opinion that is where we need to direct our efforts - at improving our own citizens living conditions and leaving those in Africa to do as they see fit. Until we here in the US strike social perfection for all our citizens we should stay out of other countries bu

Roger B.
Roger Bird6 years ago

Annmari, I appreciate your passion for human rights. However, it is my understanding that most if not all of these people want to be in those camps. And secondly, if they are not there voluntarily, then the surrounding people believe that they really are witches and will KILL them if they leave camps. Your best bet to do good in this case is to educate the surrounding people. Otherwise, you risk the DEATH of innocent people, and your do-gooding will do bad.