Nigerian humanist Leo Igwe’s ongoing project studies, protects, and provides for the needs of people (often women and girls) accused of witchcraft in northern Ghana. Accused witches are stripped of their belongings and shunned by family and friends, and are often unable to get medical treatment for their injuries or to ensure their own safety from further harm. Foundation Beyond Belief has awarded small grants to Leo Igwe in the third quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2014; this is the first time Igwe’s project has been selected as our Human Rights beneficiary.
Igwe’s ongoing study proposal describes his objectives: “The main objective of this study is to find out the social, political, and economic contexts that give rise to contemporary witchcraft accusations in Ghana and how the witch camps that accommodate victims of such accusations operate, including the religious, social, economic, and political roles (if any) they fulfill in the lives of the victims and others.” The study will also try to understand the patterns and contexts of accusation and seeks to discover:
- Who are the accusers?
- Who are the accused?
- What were they accused of ?
- Under what circumstances were they accused?
The goal of this research is to generate empirical data for further studies and to obtain an understanding regarding the handling of witchcraft-related cases by local authorities in the region.
We have tremendous firsthand accounts of the work that Leo Igwe is doing from the Pathfinders Project to visit the camps last fall.