Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Child Slavery

While researching today, I felt as though I had fallen of the planet and into some crazy Star Wars crossed with Indiana Jones kinda story. The African concept of Trokosi. Briefly its the selecting of a child, usually a virgin female to serve in a shrine for the crimes committed by another family member. Basically we're talking traditional religious crime control. Its practised by groups like the Dangme, Ewe and Fon of West African countries like Benin, Ghana and Togo.

Trokosi's comes in 3 flavours, which I will arrange from most to least humane. Dorfleviwo or Baviwo get offered by their parents to serve the Gods in appreciation of their role in the child's conception and birth. Fiasidis may be given by their families, inducted by the deities, or voluntarily chosen to serve in shrines. They are the “wives of the gods” and are treated with respect (go figure) and may own property. The un-pretty version of Trokosi is the atonement on behalf of other family members type.

Although a Trokosi should only spend between 6 months and 3 years in servitude, depending on the gravity of the family members offence, they are often stigmatised and feared in their communties and so their families often don't secure their release and they are forced to serve at the shrines for the remainder of their lives or until they become sexually unattractive (who decides this shit???). They perform free labour ( one can only imagine the type ) for those that run the shrine so its basically bondage or slavery playing dress up, paying for someone else's crimes. To make matters worse Trokosi's have to wear blue-black cloth and the identification Raffia necklace at all times, so that people can see you a mile away and can get a head start deciding how they are going to abuse you.

Information on the Trokosi found in: RK Ameh : The Trokosi System in West Africa (2004)


KimyaShafinaaz said...

this is insane! who makes this okay?
dont they have crazy dreams that tell them somethings not okay about treating ppl (children!) this way??

humanity, lost... :/

sigh. thanks for sharing, dd.

Nooj said...

i read about this once
about a kid having to "serve" a priest her whole life
Didn't know it was an established pratcise that carries on until today tho
state of the nation is an appropriate tag- as individuals we are helpless to do anything unless we form lobby groups that force the governments of these countries to reeavluate the human rights of their citizens. unfortunately the power cycle seems difficult to penetrate....

Azra said...

I cannot for the life of me understand how we, the world at large, can exist and live the way we do in the 21st century while such antiquated and vile atrocities are still practiced in so many societies.
I don't think I could ever understand.

Anonymous said...

This is sexual exploitation in one of its ugly guises, like bonded labour and trafficking.Practises that dehumanise the girl child fester in the underbelly of all poverty stricken areas and find post- modernist apologists who would rationalise its existence as culutural authenticity. So eradicating it would be as, if not more, difficult than ending FGM.

desert demons said...

Kimya, Nooj, Azra & Anon:

Thanx for your inputs, its shocking that such barbaric practices are still at large in such a 'modern' world. As one of the last commenters said, it is our collective silence that feeds this monster!

robg said...

that is so horrible! Again, those that cannot defend themselves are being abused by the sick-minded. Who is going to speak up for them.