The Superstition that Enslaves Virgin Girls in Ghana: An Exploration of the Origins, Evolution, and Practice of Trokosi

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Abstract

Trokosi is a religious practice in some parts of West Africa where young virgin girls are sent to fetish shrines to become sex slaves as part of rituals meant to prevent a communal calamity supposedly provoked by the transgressions of members of the girls’ family. This study offers additional insight into the concept, origins, evolution, and practice of trokosi, highlighting the cultural, socio-economic, and legal contexts of this practice in Ghana. This goal is achieved by reviewing pertinent literature and interviewing 10 participants: academics; activists; traditional leaders; and ordinary community members. The study establishes that trokosi, which is viewed by adherents as a religious practice and crime prevention mechanism, is a severe violation of girls’ fundamental rights. It is the epitome of sexual violence against young females and the worst form of child enslavement, discrimination, oppression, and physical and psychological torture in the south-eastern part of Ghana. It notes that even though the practice has been outlawed, it still thrives due largely to illiteracy, ineffective enforcement mechanisms, and lack of political will on the part of the government. It suggests that the ills of the trokosi system can be suppressed not through legislative actions alone but through a multi-pronged approach.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Number of pages26
JournalDignity: A Journal of Analysis of Exploitation and Violence
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2023

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