Ghanian women accused of witchcraft banished to segregated camps

In Ghana, suspected witches are expelled from their villages and sent to live in segregated “witch camps.” Writing for Broadly, Ioana Epure travelled to one such camp in the northern town of Gambaga, where she met with women who dwell in this little village of outcasts, sometimes with their children. To Epure’s surprise, the camp was situated in the middle of Gambaga, and the women who lived there were not held against their will. Those accused of witchcraft are feared and susceptible to violence, so detaching from the rest of society becomes the safest course of action. As the camp leader told Epure: “If our people come here, requesting us to come back home, we do. If not, we stay in the camp. Here, we are safe, and we are free.”

Belief in black magic is deeply rooted among the diverse religious groups — Christians, Muslims, pagans — that live in Ghana. Often, allegations of witchcraft fall upon the socially vulnerable: old women, widows, women who share their husband with other wives. “Sometimes, a husband takes more wives than he can take care of,” one Gambaga camp resident said. “Occasionally, the wives don’t get along and see the others as obstacles in the way of their children’s well-being. And so they accuse each other of witchcraft. If somebody in the family or village gets sick, or if someone experiences some type of misfortune, they can accuse their foes of using dark magic, a juju, to cause their bad luck.”

Not all inhabitants of the camp take such a discerning view of their plight. As one woman  told Epure when asked if she considers herself a witch: “If we are here, then we must be witches.”

Read the full story at Broadly.

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