Powerful Persuasion: Combating traditional practices that violate human rights

Participants of a workshopTrokosi, in Ghana, is a system of servitude that meets the community need for justice and the material and sexual needs of fetish priests. Customary or traditional practices based on deep-seated beliefs, such as Trokosi, are often the more difficult human rights violations to eradicate.  Trokosi is when women and young girls are brought and kept in fetish shrines to atone for sins or crimes allegedly committed by one of their relatives. The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) recognized that legislation outlawing such practices may not be effective and may, in some cases, result in driving a customary practice further underground.

Respected leaders, at local and national levels, engaged in direct dialogue with perpetrators, victims, other community leaders, and the community at large to facilitate understanding of the practice, while providing alternatives and avenues for abandoning the practice without losing status. There are many ways in which respected leaders can be enlisted to help community members understand the dynamics of customary or traditional practices, and to address the underlying complexities of such practices in order to transform or change those that violate basic human rights.

Year of Publication: 2004
Author(s): Emile Short

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