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Govt urged to facilitate passage of Anti-witchcraft Bill

BY: Mohammed Fugu
Ayisha Mohammed addressing the media with the support of members of the group
Ayisha Mohammed addressing the media with the support of members of the group

Three youth groups have called on the government and other relevant stakeholders to facilitate the passage of the Anti-witchcraft Bill into law to criminalise witchcraft accusations and related offences.

Youth Advocacy Movement, Young Urban Women Movement and Activista Ghana, also called on Parliament to speed up work on the bill by calling for a memorandum from interest groups to enhance it.

The groups observed that people accused of witchcraft were often subjected to various inhumane treatment, hence the need for a law to defend and protect such people.

They made the call at a stakeholder’s forum organised by Songtaba, a non-governmental organisation, and ActionAid Ghana to climax this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence in Tamale.

Activism

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until December 10, the Human Rights Day.

The campaign was started by activists at the inauguration of the Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991.

It is used as an organising strategy by individuals and organisations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

The theme for this year’s commemoration was: “Unite! Activism to end violence against women and girls”, and encouraged everyone to play their role to end violence against women and girls, show support and solidarity to women’s rights activists, and to resist the rollback on women’s rights.

Commitment

At the event, the spokesperson of the group, Ayisha Mohammed, said: “We gathered here with a shared vision of ending human rights abuses with the call on government and other key stakeholders to facilitate the process of criminalising witchcraft accusations and its associated rights violations”.

She reiterated the commitment to continue to amplify the voices of under-served populations, particularly alleged witches, and called on stakeholders to add their voices to the fight against the menace.

Restoring dignity

The Executive Director of Songtaba, Adam Lamnatu, said the passage of the anti-witchcraft bill would further restore sanity and dignity to the victims.

She indicated that various efforts were already in place to ensure the safety of alleged witches, including the formation of the Witches Reintegration Committee, which had so far succeeded in reintegrating some alleged witches into their communities.

The Northern Regional Programmes Manager of ActionAid Ghana, Esther Boateng, also appealed to traditional authorities and religious leaders to use their influence to ensure an end to dehumanising cultural practices such as child marriage, female genital mutilation and other forms of violence against women and girls.

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