Help a Nigerian Humanist Study Witch Camps

Leo Igwe is one of the good guys. He lives in Nigeria and he’s studying the “witch camps” of Northern Ghana. Basically, women who are accused of being witches are expelled from their villages — and if they’re not lynched, they may end up in these camps.

But how do these camps operate? How are they administered? How did they come about? And how do the accused end up in them?

There’s no good answer to these questions. So Leo has set out to answer them:

“The consequences of witchcraft accusation are dire and diverse,” says Igwe. “Those accused of witchcraft are often subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment by states and non-state agents. They are feared and treated as enemies to the society. Those alleged to be witches are attacked, exiled or lynched by mobs, forced to drink concoctions by local diviners or traditional medicine men and women, subjected to abusive treatment in the name of exorcism by pastors and other god-men and women, persecuted and jailed by the states. Some of those accused of witchcraft who survive the ordeal are then exiled from their homes are forced to live in camps or on the streets. Witchcraft accusations are at the root of egregious instances of human rights abuses and social problems across many regions of Africa. They fuel hatred, conflicts, and mistrust in families and communities across Africa.”

The Foundation Beyond Belief (which I work with) has given Leo a $2,000 grant to pursue his studies, but he could still use more funding. If you think this is a worthwhile cause, you can donate to his project right here.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.