Woman accused of witchcraft almost killed by angry mob in Karaga

Human rights abuse

Abubakari Ayishatu, an elderly woman in her sixties accused of being a witch has been severely beaten by an angry mob at Tataligu in the Karaga district of the Northern Region.

Ayishatu, who is currently on admission at the Walewale Government Hospital, was attacked by some young men in Tataligu after a supposed oracle declared that the woman was responsible for the recent death of a young man in the community.

Thousands of women and their children in northern Ghana have been left homeless after being accused of witchcraft, according to a 2018 report by the U.S. State Department. The report indicates that there are more than six witch camps spread throughout the northern region, holding 2,000-2,500 adult women and 1,000-1,200 children.

According to the son of the victim, Abubakari Abdallah, “he was at the farm when a call came that his mother was on the verge of dying.”

“I quickly ran home to intervene but was also nearly attacked by the angry mob, so i left and called friends from Walewale who came with a car to send my mother to Walewale Government Hospital where she is currently on admission,” Abubakari told iWatch’s Mohammed Fuseini.

There is a widespread belief in witchcraft in the West African nation, according to 2019 Gallup surveys, despite 96% of the population declaring themselves to be active worshipers in one of several world religions. The belief in the phenomenon has devastating consequences. Elderly women believed to be witches are often persecuted, ousted from their homes or even murdered. Their children are also cursed and not allowed to go back home after they have grown.

Though both men and women can be accused of witchcraft, the vast majority are women. Men are considered to have a strong socio-political base and are therefore better able to successfully contest the accusations leveled against them, experts say.

A 2019 report by The Guardian showed that as women age in rural Ghana, signs of dementia, mental health issues or even menopausal symptoms can result in them being declared ‘witches’ and pushed out of their community.

Read Also: Police shoot 15-year old for flouting COVID-19 restrictions

Many elderly women in northern Ghana have fled their homes to live in so-called witch camps. The government and local community leaders have so far failed to take the necessary action to prevent this practice of abuse which is still widespread in Northern Ghana.

Report by iWatch’s Northern Region Correspondent Mohammed Fuseini | Writing and Editing Gideon Sarpong.

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Gideon Sarpong

Gideon Sarpong is a policy analyst and media practitioner with close to a decade of experience in policy, data and investigative journalism. Gideon is a co-founder of iWatch Africa. He is an author; a fellow of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Thomson Reuters Foundation, Commonwealth Youth Program ,Free Press Unlimited and Bloomberg Data for Health Initiative. Gideon is the founder of Sustainable Ocean Alliance Ghana. He was a 2021 Policy Leader Fellow at the European University Institute, School of Trans-national Governance in Florence, Italy and 2020/21 Open Internet For Democracy Leader. Gideon was also a 2022 Visiting Scholar/Reuters Fellow at the University of Oxford, UK and was selected as a 2022 TRF/Trust Conference Changemaker. He is currently the Africa Regional Cordinator for Environmental Justice Foundation and a 2023 Pulitzer ORN Fellow. Email: gideonsarpong@iwatchafrica.org.
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