“My stolen childhood; understanding the Trokosi system”

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How girls are donated to shrines as sex slaves in Ghana

In certain communities in Ghana, Benin and Togo, underage girls are handed to shrines as sex slaves. This is their chilling story.

Trokosi: Η τελετουργική υποτέλεια είναι μια πρακτική στη Γκάνα, το Τόγκο και το Μπένιν, όπου παραδοσιακοί θρησκευτικοί ναοί παίρνουν συνήθως νεαρά παρθένα κορίτσια ως πληρωμή για υπηρεσίες, ή ως θρησκευτική εξιλέωση για υποτιθέμενες αμαρτίες ενός μέλους της οικογένειας. Τα κορίτσια εργάζονται ως σκλάβοι του ιερού, υπηρετώντας τους ιερείς και τους πρεσβύτερους. Αν ένα κορίτσι το σκάσει από το ιερό ή πεθάνει η οικογένεια πρέπει να την αντικαταστήσει με άλλο κορίτσι.

 

What is Trokosi?

Trokosi is practiced till this day in certain communities in Benin, Togo and Ghana—even though it was declared illegal in Ghana in 1998.

It is a system where adolescent girls are herded to shrines to become slaves.

It is believed that if they don’t serve in those shrines as Trokosis, their family members will be afflicted with strange ailments and eventually die.

How girls are donated to shrines as sex slaves Perenyi serves a shrine in Ghana

(BBC)

Brigitte Sossou Perenyi was a Trokosi. She was 7 years of age when her dad was deceived into handing her over to an uncle in Lome, Togo.

From Togo, Perenyi ended up in a shrine until one day in 1997 when help came her way.

“When I was 7, I was brought to Ghana and forced into a system I knew nothing about”, Perenyi narrates. “I was held as a slave in a religious shrine”.

One day in 1997, an American news crew led by Christiane Amanpour, checked into this village in Ghana for the Trokosi story.

How girls are donated to shrines as sex slaves A CBS crew led by Amanpour worked on the Trokosi story in 1997

(BBC)

“What crime is this child paying for?”, Amanpour asked, as the then 7-year-old Perenyi and other Trokosis looked on, crestfallen and shattered— well aware that their futures were no longer in their own hands, at least for the moment.

“Her uncle committed adultery”, a priest responded.

“Do you know why you are here?” Amanpour asked a starry-eyed Perenyi who shook her head to say she doesn’t. Perenyi had a basin perched on her head and she was wrapped in a black wrapper. She was surrounded by other child slaves in the sultry African temperatures.

As a slave in a shrine, Perenyi says she was isolated and not allowed to attend school.

Help from the international media

“In 1997, I was filmed by an American news crew at the place I was being held—a shrine run by a priest dedicated to the worship of deities. I was labelled a Trokosi –a wife of the gods—paying for a crime committed by a family member”, Perenyi says in an emotion laden voice.

The CBS report of 1997 changed everything for the young Perenyi.

“The report changed everything. With the help of a charity called International Needs, an American viewer flew to Ghana to negotiate my release. His name was Kenneth Perenyi and he would become my adopted father.

How girls are donated to shrines as sex slaves Kenneth Perenyi flew to Africa from the U.S to save a little girl from Trokosi

(BBC)

 

“He took me to the US where I spent the next 13 years. I was released to be out after a year in the shrine, but there was a huge emptiness that could never be filled”, Perenyi says.

That emptiness set her on the road to find her parents and unravel the story behind the Trokosi system.

Her trip took her to the Upper Volta region of Ghana and to her village in Togo where her parents were visibly over the moon to welcome her back. Over earthenware pots in a typical African village dotted with farmlands, charcoal fires and domestic fowls, the tears flowed after Perenyi alighted from her Jeep into the home from where she was plucked into a life of slavery in Ghana.

Trokosis as sex slaves

Reverend Walter and Dr. Robert Ame who have been raising awareness on the Trokosi system, told Perenyi that the slave tradition persists till this day.

“For the practice to be consummated, there was a need for the traditional priest to sleep with the virgin girl who comes in”, Walter narrates.

“Sexual servitude was common and many women would bear the children of the priests. I was liberated before puberty, so I didn’t have to go through this. But I wanted to know why someone would serve time for another person’s crime”.

How girls are donated to shrines as sex slaves Perenyi returns home after 20 years and she can’t stop the tears

(BBC)

 

According to Ame, “it is believed that they have a right to select any member of their family to serve in their shrine, whether that person committed a crime or not. By their collective principles, they believe they are doing the right thing”.

κατάλογος

Χιλιάδες γυναίκες στην Δυτική Αφρική έχουν υποδουλωθεί από μια παραδοσιακή πρακτική που ονομάζεται «trokosi». Ανήλικα κορίτσια και γυναίκες αναγκάζονται να ζουν και να εργάζονται με ιερείς, απομονωμένες και αφοσιωμένες να λατρεύουν θεότητες, για το υπόλοιπο της ζωής τους.

Με αυτόν τον τρόπο «πλήρωναν» για τις αμαρτίες της οικογένειας τους. Οι άντρες του σπιτιού αποφάσιζαν να στείλουν νεαρά κορίτσια σε αυτά το μέρη, ως εξιλέωση, ώστε να σταματήσουν οι αρρώστιες και οι θάνατοι που πίστευαν ότι τα έστελνε ο Θεός για να τους τιμωρήσει.

Τα κορίτσια δεσμεύονταν για όλη τους τη ζωή χωρίς να ξέρουν το λόγο που βρέθηκαν εκεί, μακριά από τις μητέρες και τις οικογένειες τους. Αν και η πρακτική έχει απαγορευτεί επισήμως στην Γκάνα, εξακολουθεί να συμβαίνει σε πολλές περιοχές της Δυτικής Αφρικής αλλά σε μικρότερη κλίμακα.

Η Brigitte Sossou Perenyi, έζησε ως trokosi. Σε ηλικία 7 ετών, χωρίς να γνωρίζει το λόγο, αναγκάστηκε να φύγει από το πατρικό της και να βρεθεί σε ένα άγνωστο μέρος

«Μου είπαν ότι έπρεπε να φύγω από το σπίτι μου. Με έστειλαν να μείνω με το θείο μου. Με ανέβασαν πάνω σε μια μηχανή, δεν ήξερα ποιος ήταν ο οδηγός. Σε όλο το ταξίδι έκλαιγα.

images

Με είχαν πάρει μακριά από την οικογένεια μου. Βρέθηκα σε ένα μέρος που δεν ήξερα. Δεν καταλάβαινα καν τη γλώσσα που μιλούσαν. Με έγδυσαν και με τύλιξαν με ένα μοβ πανί. Μου πήραν τα πάντα, μέχρι και το όνομα μου»

20 χρόνια μετά την απελευθέρωση της, διανύει ένα ταξίδι στο παρελθόν για να πάρει απαντήσεις. Τι είναι αυτό που της στέρησε την παιδική της ηλικία; Γιατί τόσα χρόνια ζούσε στην απομόνωση μακριά από την οικογένεια της;

Η Brigitte ύστερα από τόσο καιρό επανασυνδέεται με τις ρίζες της και προσπαθεί να καταλάβει τι ακριβώς είναι το trokosi και γιατί η οικογένεια της την έδωσε μακριά.

https://www.pulse.ng/news/local/how-girls-are-donated-to-shrines-as-sex-slaves-id8384101.html

https://ampa.lifo.gr/zoi/i-klemmeni-paidiki-moy-ilikia/

 

6 comments on ““My stolen childhood; understanding the Trokosi system”

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