(MNN) — Three masked gunmen attacked and robbed the home of Walter and Marian
Pimpong on the night of July 23, 2008. They are very traumatized, but safe.
Rev. Walter Pimpong is the Executive Director of IN Network
in Ghana. He works to free girls and women from
traditional sexual slavery at village shrines.
The Trokosi tradition has thrived in the Volta region of Ghana, where
the practice of voodoo originated, for hundreds of years. When a villager commits a crime, the
aggrieved person reports the crime to the fetish priest. The priest then afflicts the villager's
family with curses and misfortunes.
To stop the curses, the family must give up a virgin
daughter, usually between eight and fifteen years old but sometimes as young as
five, to the priest. She becomes his
property through a humiliating initiation ceremony. Her labor and her body are his to demand,
usually for the rest of her life. The
priest controls everything she does and beats her if she tries to escape.
The priest will not provide food, clothing, schooling, or
basic medical care for any of the girls enslaved at the shrine. The Trokosi often bear children, who live in
bondage with them. Although the practice
became illegal in 1998, the law is difficult to enforce due to the
pervasive fear of the curses.
For several years, Rev. Pimpong has been working to free the
Trokosi. Rather than paying ransoms for
the women, he works through a slow process of negotiation, building
relationships and trust with the priests and village elders. By that method, he can usually persuade the
shrine to agree to cease the practice of Trokosi.
So far, 31 shrines have dropped the practice, and 3,500 women
and their children have been liberated. It is estimated that about 2,000 are still enslaved, along with
approximately 8,000 children. IN Network
hopes to free them in the next few years, while the political climate is
However, the work does not end with the women's
release. IN Network provides the women
with counseling, vocational training, education, Bible teaching, food,
healthcare, clothing, and a micro-credit plan. Their children are assimilated into IN Network's sponsorship
program. More than 95 percent of the
freed Trokosi become followers of Jesus Christ.
IN Network ministers not only to the women but also to the
villages surrounding the shrines. When
the Trokosi practice comes to an end, the entire village is freed from the fear
of the curses. Through the continued
relationship with Rev. Pimpong and other national workers, the village receives
sanitation, clean water, and education for the children. In addition, national Christians often have
the opportunity to plant churches in former Trokosi villages.
Pray that the Pimpongs will recover from the attack. Pray also for their protection and for the continuation of their ministry without opposition. Click here if you are interested in
supporting their ministry.