Trokosi (Child Slavery) in Ghana: A Policy Approach

The institution of ‘trokosi’ is an aspect of the religious practices of the southern Ewe and parts of the Dangme people of Ghana. ‘Trokosiwo’ are virgins, usually female, who are assigned to serve in the shrines of deities. This paper focuses on one type of ‘trokosi’, those who have been appointed by their families to serve in the shrines as reparation for crimes committed by other members of the family. It is one of the Ewe magico-religious mechanisms of crime control. In the first half of the 1990s the practice of ‘trokosi’ became a national social problem. In June 1998 the Ghanaian parliament passed a law making the practice of ‘trokosi’ a criminal offence, and there is already talk of success in eradicating the ‘trokosi’ problem. This essay attempts to account for this success. It adopts the position that the process of eradicating certain traditonal African practices, such as child slavery, which violate fundamental human rights, must be sensitive to the cultural norms and values of the practitioners in order to make change acceptable. Bibliogr., notes, ref.

Title: Trokosi (Child Slavery) in Ghana: A Policy Approach
Author: Ameh, Robert K.
Year: 1998
Periodical: Ghana Studies
Volume: 1
Pages: 35-62
Language: English
Geographic term: Ghana
Abstract: The institution of ‘trokosi’ is an aspect of the religious practices of the southern Ewe and parts of the Dangme people of Ghana. ‘Trokosiwo’ are virgins, usually female, who are assigned to serve in the shrines of deities. This paper focuses on one type of ‘trokosi’, those who have been appointed by their families to serve in the shrines as reparation for crimes committed by other members of the family. It is one of the Ewe magico-religious mechanisms of crime control. In the first half of the 1990s the practice of ‘trokosi’ became a national social problem. In June 1998 the Ghanaian parliament passed a law making the practice of ‘trokosi’ a criminal offence, and there is already talk of success in eradicating the ‘trokosi’ problem. This essay attempts to account for this success. It adopts the position that the process of eradicating certain traditonal African practices, such as child slavery, which violate fundamental human rights, must be sensitive to the cultural norms and values of the practitioners in order to make change acceptable. Bibliogr., notes, ref.