More than 700 women in the west African Republic of Guinea were allegedly conned into believing they were pregnant by a faith healer who is now in police custody.
According to the BBC N’na Fanta Camara gave women who had been unable to conceive a mixture of leaves, herbs and other ingredients that caused them to bloat and look pregnant. For her services, patients paid £24.00, in a country where the average monthly wage is around £35.
A police doctor has examined 47 of the affected women and said they risked long-term complications from the treatment.
Camara insists she didn’t do anything wrong. She told reporters in the Guinean capital of Conakry:
I work very hard to help [the women] realise their dream but the rest is in the hands of God.
A court is expected to charge her soon with endangering people’s lives through fraudulent means.
On Tuesday, more than 200 women protested outside the police station Conakry where Ms Camara was held.
One of the protesters said:
It’s been a year now since we first went to see this woman. During our first visit, she gave us some medicines of leaves and herbs that made us vomit. She assured us that this was good for us. As one continues to take these medicines, the stomach starts to rise a bit.
After a while, we visited again, she examined us by just touching our bellies and she declared us pregnant.
The women added that Camara told them not to go to a doctor, and once she declared them pregnant, they were expected to give her a chicken and fabrics in thanks.
Some of the women reported looking pregnant for 12 to 16 months.