Members of Parliament (MPs) have unanimously called for the closure of all witch camps in the country to bring an end to the barbaric treatment meted out to old women alleged to be witches.
The act, they said, was an affront to human rights and human dignity.
The MPs argued that branding these women in such an undignified manner and taking them to the cleaners in the name of spirituality was backward and laughable.
The unanimity followed a statement made on the floor of the House by the MP for Ketu South Constituency, Abla Dzifa Gomashie, to mark this year’s World Elderly Day.
The International Day of Older People is observed on October 1 each year, after the United Nations (UN) General Assembly voted to establish October 1 as the International Day of Older People as recorded in Resolution 45/106.
It was observed for the first time on October 1, 1991.
This year’s theme is: “Addressing gender-based violence in older age – policy-law and evidence-based responses.” It is aimed at promoting an understanding of the importance of preventing abuse of the elderly and supporting the rights and well-being of older people.
Though the event is marked on October 1 each year, it has been pushed forward by Ghana in order to get the needed attention and rally support before the day.
Ms. Gomashie called on state actors to push for the implementation of laws that protected the rights of older women.
She said it was shameful for law implementors to watch unconcerned, in the name of cultural practice, for older women to suffer.
Leading the call for the banishment of such camps, the MP for Asunafo South Constituency in the Ahafo Region, Eric Opoku, said the government must act now and decisively.
“Successive leaders have spoken repeatedly about their commitments to get these women re-integrated to disband the camps, but sadly, it’s been a lot of talks.
“It’s about time leadership walked the talk,” he said.
The MP for North Tongu Constituency, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, said the establishment of such camps was wrong in the first place and ought to be disbanded forthwith.
He said the facilities deprived women of their rights to develop fully and freely, which in turn deprived their children of education, good health, and proper sanitation.
He advocated a Private Member’s Bill towards the abolishment of such camps as it was an embarrassment to the country.
The North Tongu MP was more concerned about the role some pastors play in contributing to such acts.
He called for a more biting law to deal with such pastors who gave false prophecies, leading to attacks and sometimes the killing of such women.
The MP for Tano North Constituency, Freda Prempeh, said laws that frowned on the establishment of such camps needed to be implemented rigorously.
The MP for Takoradi Constituency, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, said, among others, that such women were mostly innocent widows who were wrongly accused.
Support for persons with disability
The Minority Chief Whip and MP for Adaklu Constituency, Governs Kwame Agbodza, called for the expansion of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) to fully embrace older women.
He, however, called for the strict implementation of the law that ensures that buildings in the country had facilities suitable for people with disability.
The MP, who is an architect, said Parliament was guilty in that regard and must take steps to ensure that such requirements were adhered to.