Witch Accusations Are a Real Problem in Ghana

Photo: Nyani Quarmyne/? Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

In Ghana, Vice reports, women are sometimes accused of witchery after a tragedy or mishap or even a weird dream occurs in their community. Someone could get a terrible disease or die unexpectedly, and a woman is identified as a sorcerer and expelled from the village. A woman named Awabu was accused of witchcraft after someone dreamt she was wielding a knife.

Women who are named as witches often go to one of the six “witch camps” in the country. If they are well enough to work, they help with farm labor at places like Gambaga. Once at the camp, the priest employs a frightening methodology to verify the realness of the witchcraft accusations, which relies on whether a thrown farm animal lands faceup or facedown when close to the accused woman.

If the chicken lands faceup, the woman is not a witch. If it lands facedown, however, the woman must undergo more rituals, like drinking chicken blood, to exorcise the witchcraft from her body. Either way, she needs to stay in the camp indefinitely under the protection of a village priest.

ActionAid reports that 70 percent of the women are widows, and that “outspoken or eccentric women” are also frequent targets for these allegations. In case you want an international women’s issue to discuss at any forthcoming Halloween events, this one is available.

Witch Accusations Are a Real Problem in Ghana