The minister-designate for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Sarah Adwoa Safo, has indicated her plans to bring some ‘rebranding’ to witches camps around the country.
She said that while there have been several attempts at abolishing such camps and disallowing such practices across the country, all attempts in the past do not seem to have worked.
By that, she hopes to bring a new feel to these camps, which, she said in her observation, had become home to most of these women more than their original homes.
She was responding to a question posed to her during her ministerial vetting at Parliament’s Appointments Committee on what she will do about the menace of witches camps and the violations of the rights of alleged witches.
This was followed by an interjection, seeking clarity on her plans for the camps, by the Ranking Member on the Committee, Haruna Iddrisu.
“I will engage and visit some of the camps and engage with these alleged witches. I will further engage with traditional and opinion leaders in these areas to get a clearer picture on what indeed ought to be done.
“I chanced on some documents which indicated that in Gambaga Witch Camp for instance, there are 600 inmates and when they were engaged, only one was willing to come back home. So, I believe that a rebranding of these camps because as far as the women are concerned, they have found families in these camps. And so…”
Haruna: “A rebranding of the witches camps? So, your policy will be to rebrand the camps? You have a background in human rights; it has to do with infractions of human rights. That they are being held hostage because of some people’s cultural and social beliefs. So, when you use the word ‘rebrand’, are you going to promote the detention of supposed witches?
Adwoa: “Definitely not. I indicated that attempts to withdraw these women has proven difficult in the past and that is why I believe that another and a novel approach at dealing with the matter would be more prudent. So, if they see it as homes and the ministry supports them with the necessary social amenities that is expected of a state: they given food, they are put on leave, and they are given clothing, I believe that that negative branding as a witch camp will be taken away.
“And the women also, I intend to go through with them, some education on the need for them to also know that these abuses meted on them are not legal and that they can speak out and report them but I think that the approach we have used in the past have not worked and we have to do things differently,”