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Religion of Sunday, 20 May 2007

Source: GNA

Human Rights groups urged to fight against trokosi

Adidome (V/R), May 20, GNA- Gender and Human Rights Groups have been asked to fight the obnoxious trokosi system under which young girls are sent to shrines to atone for crimes allegedly committed by members of their families.

Rev Walter Bimpong, Executive Director of International Needs Ghana (ING), made the call at Adidome on Saturday.

ING is a non-profit organization that led efforts to liberate some victims of the trokosi system and advocated a review of the practice. Under the ING's proposed review, cattle and cash should be paid as atonement instead of the enslavement of young girls to shrine heads. Rev Bimpong announced that the practice, which abated in the Volta Region appeared to be on the rise again, alleging that recently some girls were donated to the shrines, and some were seen visiting markets in the region, particularly Dzodze, begging for alms. Rev Bimpong made the appeal when he commissioned a 10-room guesthouse built by the NIG at its skills training center to offer training and rehabilitate those liberated from trokosi as well as other needy women and widows.

The well-furnished house with an office, five guestrooms, a kitchen, laundry and a 30-seater conference room cost about 1.5 billion cedis which was donated by a Canadian philanthropist, Miss Maurel Bent, who was present at the ceremony. Among the participants was a new batch of women receiving training at the center.

Rev Bimpong said the country's laws should be applied in full to fight the system, which continues to violate the rights of many women and denied access to opportunities including education. He said it was unfortunate that some groups in the country are backing the shrines to ignore the calls for its abolishment. Rev Bimpong announced the upgrading of facilities at the skills training center to turn it into a tertiary school to enhance education in the Volta Region.

Togbe Kwasinyi Agyeman IV, Chief of Adidome appealed to traditional rulers to stop obnoxious cultural beliefs and practices that had been found to be irrelevant with time.

He commended ING's for breaking the jinx surrounding the trokosi practice in the Mafi-Adidome areas and said " initially we were skeptical, but you proved the reality, we need to hold you high". Miss Bent assured the centre of her support to advance the cause of women.