TRO ADHERENTS IN WEST AFRICA. TRADITION AND SLAVERY
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The article aims at presenting the problem of ritual slavery in West Africa. It concentrates on the modern situation of one type of the tro adherents - the 'trokosi' (slaves of gods). It also describes NGO activists point of view and some actions which have been taken in order to change this practice. The article was based on studies concerning slavery in African countries as well as on reports about present situation of slaves. They revealed that slavery still exists in Africa. The 'tronua' (priests) have the right to require, in the name of gods, girls to become slaves in their shrines. The practice is still common in modern Ghana, Togo, Benin as well as in southwestern Nigeria. A lot of girls enter the shrine voluntary, but such a choice is not possible for those who are victims of the 'trokosi' practice, which has its roots in the 17th century, or even earlier. In this case an innocent girl has to be sacrificed in order to calm the anger of the gods caused by a crime committed by a member of her family. Such girls have to stay in a shrine for at least three to five years, but in some areas they are sent for life. Today their situation is worse than two hundred years ago, as they are badly treated. Thus, institutions and NGO organizations, especially in Ghana, have been making efforts to change this practice. The Ghanaian Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) secured the release of some women and conducts the education against 'trokosi'. Among the Ghanaian NGOs 'International Needs Ghana' is the most active. The Ghanaian and international NGOs' most important success is the law of 1998 which criminalizes the 'trokosi' practice and other forms of ritual bondage. Unfortunately, the function of this law is minimal. Huge work has been done in Ghana to eradicate the 'trokosi' practice, but it is still a problem, as girls are continually sent to shrines. It is a fact that the 'trokosi' tradition disappears, but this is only true of Ghana. Effective actions must be taken to eliminate the practice in the whole region.
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