Via The Independent:
Around 700 women and 800 children live in Gambaga camp, and in five other witch camps across northern Ghana, where they are virtually cut off from the outside world. Housed in flimsy mud huts, without enough food, they have few basic health or education facilities. Their children and, often, grandchildren grow up inside the camps’ boundaries…
“I know nothing about witchcraft,” said Ms Gigire, when she was first brought to Ghana’s largest camp. “The girl’s father and three of the men from her family came to my house and told my husband that if I didn’t release the soul of the girl they will beat me to death. They said that if I wanted to stay alive I should leave for Gambaga straight away. My husband was not strong enough to fight all of them.”
Three months ago, Ms Gigire’s husband managed to get his wife out of the camp − paying £70 to the chief and buying animals for a ritual. She is now trying to rehabilitate herself to life outside, but the stigma of being accused is hard to shake off. Around 40 per cent of the women who leave the camps return within a year, according to an ActionAid report, Condemned Without Trial, to be published this week.
Women and children are also targeted in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, and the Central African Republic. Earlier this year, a mother of two was burned alive in central Nepal after being branded a witch, and just weeks ago, four children were killed by a “witch doctor” in Haiti…
Suuk Lari, 51, was accused of being a witch when her teenage daughter died. She has lived in Gambaga camp in northern Ghana for more than three years. She returned home once, but, when another woman’s child died, she was again accused of witchcraft, and returned to the camp.
“At my daughter’s funeral, a mob attacked me. They hammered a nail into my ankle. People were saying ‘look at this woman, she is a witch’. More men came and beat me; one pushed me down a well. They said they would kill me.
“I prefer living here. I am with other women. When I wake up I hear laughter, and we can go where we want to go. I can’t ever return home.”