Members of Parliament (MPs) have called on the government to work towards abolishing witch camps, saying it was an abomination to operate or to even allow these camps in the country.
The MPs made the call on the Floor of the House on Thursday when they commented on a Statement made by Madam Abla Dzifa Gomashie, a National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Ketu South Constituency to mark this year's World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD)
WEAAD was first established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011 to raise awareness about the abuse and neglect experienced by older adults. The day aims to promote an understanding of the importance of preventing elder abuse and supporting the rights and well-being of older people.
This year's celebration was observed on the theme: Addressing Gender-Based Violence in Older Age-Policy-Law and Evidence-Based Responses."
Madam Gomashie called for policies and the needed attention to be accorded to the aged in society after they had d their dues extensively towards development.
Mr Smauel Okudzeto Ablakwa, NDC MP for North Tongu Constituency, said, "Such facilities deprive women of their rights to develop fully and freely, and ends depriving their children of education, good health and proper sanitation."
He called for a Private Member Bill towards the abolishment of such camps as it was an embarrassment that did not need to be entertained, particularly when it was a clear discrimination against poor aged women in society.
He also called for a check on some pastors who gave false prophecies about the aged.
Mr Ablakwa further urged his colleague MPs, who had witch camps in their Constituencies, to work together to have them abolished.
In his comment, Mr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, a New Patriotic Party (NPP), MP for Takoradi Constituency, stated that most women who found themselves in such camps were innocent widows who had been wrongly accused of murders they didn’t commit.
"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 talksIt's about time leadership walked the talk,Mr Eric Opoku, NDC MP for Asunafo South said.
He appealed to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection to use the day to give aged women of Ghana what he believed would be "the most priceless gift they will be extremely happy to have, a roadmap to re-integrate the women in these witch camps and a systemic disbanding of the camps, never to be resurrected again.
"Where in Europe or America can you find this," he asked
"These women don't belong to these camps, and we need to have all hands on deck to get them out as soon as possible," Mr George Kwabena Obeng Takyi, NPP MP for Manso Nkwanta Constituency said.
Madam Freda PrempehNPP MP for Tano North Constituency, called for the rigorous enforcement of laws against the establishment of such camps.
She, therefore, charged the citizenry to educate and change the mindset of people towards the aged, especially women.
Mr Governs Kwame Agbodza, NDC MP for Adakiu Constituency, commended the government for introducing the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) Programme, he, however, called for the right implementation that would cater for the aged.
On his part, Mr Alexander Kwamena Afenyo-Markin, NPP MP for Effutu, lauding the maker of the statement, urged the implementation of policies focused on the subject.
Madam Comfort Doyoe Cudjoe-Ghansah, NDC MP for Ada, called on the nation to have a changed perception of old age who were vulnerable in society and needed the shelter of love and not torture.
A witch camp is a settlement where women suspected of being witches can flee for safety, usually to avoid being
Witch camps exist solely in Ghana, where there are at least six of them, housing a total of around 1000 womenSuch
camps can be found at BonyasiGambaga, Gnani, Kpatinga, Kukuo and Naabuliall in Northern Ghana
Some of the camps are thought to have been set up over 100 years ago.
Many women in such camps are widows and it is thought that relatives accused them of witchcraft to take control of their husband’s’ possessions.
Unfortunately, many women also are mentally ill, a little-understood problem in Ghana.