Ghana (MNN) — Mark Wisdom, a pioneer for liberating Trokosi slaves, passed away about two months ago, Every Child Ministries reported.
As a young Baptist pastor, Wisdom had a vision of young women crying out for help. He later visited an idol shrine near his own town and saw the very faces of the women he had seen in his vision.
These women were Trokosi slaves. Trokosi slaves are virgin women and girls given to priests to pay for a crime that is often in the distant past. Wisdom spoke publicly about these shrines when no one else would. "His real contribution was in boldly calling the problem to the attention of the nation in a way that Ghanaians could not ignore," said John Rouster of Every Child Ministries. "At a time when virtually everyone was silent about the problem, Mark Wisdom spoke out publicly. His comments like ‘I'm not afraid of the shrines or priests' made front-page headlines in Ghana, West Africa."
Funding of actual liberation became difficult, however, so other organizations took over much of that aspect.
ECM worked with Wisdom during his work to liberate Trokosi slaves. "If he had kept silent, it is doubtful that the later work of the Christian organizations could have succeeded," said Rouster. ECM helped Wisdom liberate 97 shrine slaves in 2004 and participated in distributing his book on the problem of Trokosi.
"We are proud to carry on the tradition he started with Stomp Out Slavery Project, and we trust our own voice will always be just as strong and courageous. The lives of too
many girls and young women have been destroyed in the shrines," said Rouster.
Since 1998, when legislation passed forbidding Trokosi, more than 10,000 women and children in the Trokosi system have been liberated. It often takes between two and four years of
negotiations to liberate a shrine. "We're in the process of starting early negotiations. We had another liberation of the Trokosi in December of 2005 in the Volta region, and we are in the early stages of negotiations on some other shrines," said
On average there are about four children for every woman who is liberated.