No Peace in the House: Witchcraft Accusations as an “Old Woman’s Problem” in Ghana, 2013

In Ghana, older women may be marginalized, abused, and even killed as witches. Media accounts imply this is common practice, mainly through stories of “witches camps” to which the accused may flee. Anthropological literature on aging and on witchcraft, however, suggests that this focus exaggerates and misinterprets the problem. This article presents a literature review and exploratory data on elder advocacy and rights intervention on behalf of accused witches in Ghana to help answer the question of how witchcraft accusations become an older woman’s problem in the context of aging and elder advocacy work. The ineffectiveness of rights based and formal intervention through sponsored education programs and development projects is contrasted with the benefit of informal conflict resolution by family and staff of advocacy organizations. Data are based on ethnographic research in Ghana on a rights based program addressing witchcraft accusations by a national elder advocacy organization and on rights based intervention in three witches camps.

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