Christian ministries are gaining freedom for hundreds of Trokosi ("wife of the gods") sex slaves, of which there are thousands in this West African nation. The Trokosi, taken to appease the presumed anger of the gods, range in age from 5 to more than 60 years. In 1991, workers with the International Needs Network (IN Network), an evangelical ministry based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, began visiting villages with shrines and talking with leaders, shrine elders, and priests. Ghana Baptist Convention ministers did the same.

"We started with education, making people aware that it's not right to keep the girls in the shrines for offenses committed by other people," said Walter Pimpong, executive director of IN Network Ghana. Staffers argue that ending slavery is in the best interest of the village, said Rody Rodeheaver, IN Network's U.S. president: "Slavery keeps villages in bondage and keeps the economy poor."

Ghana Baptists, the IN Network, and others joined the United Nations to successfully lobby Ghana's government to ban the practice in 1998. "But because it's a religion, the government is a bit careful to dialogue and get people to stop," said Kojo Amo, general secretary of the Ghana Baptist Convention.

In one case, according to Ghanaian fetish priests, the gods were angered when Mercy Senahe's great aunt stole a visitor's earrings. The visitor pronounced a death curse on Mercy's family. Soon after, family members started dying.

To atone for the crime, the family surrendered Mercy's young cousin Adzo to perpetual slavery at a Trokosi shrine some three hours from her village; the shrine was built by followers of the traditional African religion, which has strong ties to voodoo. As a Trokosi slave, Adzo received scant food or ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.