The practice of Trokosi -- the enslavement of young girls to priests -- has sparked a national debate in Ghana. Trokosi (meaning "wife of the Gods") is the custom of sending young women and girls to be cared for by priests in order to protect the family from evil, to apologize for sins committed by a male family member, or to give thanks to the Gods for blessings received.
Human rights activists are calling Trokosi "one of the country's most serious human rights problems." It is estimated that currently, almost 4,000 females are enslaved by priests in 51 shrines throughout Ghana. One activist, Vincent Azumah, commented that "Even though there are other human rights abuses here, this is one that has enslaved innocent people in large numbers. It has been going on for ages, and many women have died in the system, knowing nothing but the shrine life."
Activists argue that the women are subjected to sexual servitude, beaten, forbidden from attending school, and are seldom allowed to keep the money they earn from charcoal production and trading. Essentially, they become concubines of the priests.
Supporters of Trokosi claim that women who are part of the shrine life are heroes and role models in their families. They dispute the rumors that the women are beaten or raped, arguing that this is just one more way to attack traditional African customs and religion.
However, human rights advocate and lawyer, Angela Dwamena-Aboagye, said,"It's slavery, pure and simple. It violates every fundamental right. It's a step backwards for women."
Media Resources: Los Angeles Times - June 24, 1999
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .