Women Outcasted Due to Accusations of Witchcraft

First of all, I'm shocked about this. A woman named Mariama Alidu from Gambaga, Ghana was cast out as a witch from her village by her own family even though she swears she has never cast a spell. Rough way to start the new year out. The mere suspicion of witchcraft was enough to see her and 80 other suspected witches expelled to a scruffy camp of mud huts on the fringes of the town of Gambaga.

"It is the work of the devil. I can't say I have ever practiced it myself," says Mariama, who has lived in the camp for about 10 years.

Hundreds more women accused of witchcraft live in similar camps in the cocoa- and gold-producing West African country.

Belief in witchcraft remains widespread in Africa, the world's poorest continent, where Christianity and Islam rub shoulders with animist religions, and where witch doctors wield great power in tribal societies.

Like the Salem Witch Trials, all it takes is a quarrel with a daughter-in-law or that they have passed child-bearing age. In some cases, witchcraft offers an easy explanation as to why one person is successful and another is not. In places where medical knowledge is scarce, illness is also often seen as having a spiritual or malignant cause. Even an elderly woman's appearance in a dream can be taken as a sign of her malevolent intent.

Thankfully, people from places like the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice are helping to decline camp populations. It's sad that something like this is going on today where a woman can not be successful without being afraid of someone accusing her of witchcraft. I'm glad that there are some people trying to stop this before it gets out of hand.

To read more: Alleged African witches still outcast to camps


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