Ghana (MNN) — Although the
practice of trokosi slavery was outlawed in 1998, it is still practiced in some
parts of Ghana.
Ritual servitude involves young
virgin girls who are given over to a traditional religious shrine in payment
for services, or in religious atonement for alleged misdeeds of a family member.
In Ghana and in Togo, it is practiced by
some parts of the Ewe tribe in the Volta region, and in Benin it is practiced
by the Fon.
Those who practice believe the
girl is actually married to the gods of the shrine. Often, they are sexually abused, serve at
hard labor without compensation, suffer harsh punishment, and are denied food and
education, among other things.
Violation of the anti-slavery law carries
a substantial penalty: a mandatory three year jail sentence, but the law has
not been enforced.
Since Every Child Ministries believes
God created human beings in His image, it is natural for the ministry to be
anti-slavery and interested in human rights. They have been partnering for several years with national
Ghanaian efforts to liberate these girls.
ECM's Lorella Rouster says their
work with these women is fast outpacing their staff. As of April 2008, Every Child Ministries was instrumental
in organizing three liberations which ended the practice of slavery in
five shrines, freeing 500 slaves and 2,000 of their slaves' children.
A triumphant story, but that's
just the beginning. "One of the big
jobs is not only liberating them, but AFTER we liberate them, helping them to
rebuild their lives. So much is broken, and that's really a big process. We are expressing an urgent need. We need two
women or two couples to work alongside our Ghanaian national
After liberation, the girls
get vocational training. Options include dressmaking, tie-dying and batik,
weaving of traditional kente cloth, hairdressing, soap making, baking, and
catering. ECM also develops Christian education programs so that those
freed have opportunity to learn the teaching of the Scriptures.
There are thousands more who are
enslaved. Before expanding more, Rouster
says they want to make sure they are taking good care of the girls they're
working with now. That's why ECM needs a
team ready to commit at least a couple years to reach these women. "They would have the opportunity to
share Christ with the women who have been freed as they go into their homes.
They would help train and give experience to our national workers to evangelize
them and to disciple them."