Agence France-Presse

'Spirit children' killings banned in 7 Ghana communities

A mother holds her smiling child during a visit of United Nations (UN) First Lady Ban Sun-taek (not pictured) at the Princess Marie Louise Children's Hospital in Accra on April 20, 2008.

Seven communities in northern Ghana have banned the ritual of killing "spirit children," babies born with physical disabilities believed to be possessed by evil spirits.

"Spirit children" were thought to be a sign of impending misfortune and given a poisonous drink to kill them.

The announcement followed 12 years of intensive education against the practice by child rights group Afrikids Ghana.

The seven communities that have now denounced the practice are Kandiga, Manyoro, Mirigu, Nabango, Natugnia, Sirigu and Yua. A proclamation against the tradition was made at a grand durbar at Sirigu, where the communities were led by their chiefs and said they would now hand over those who continued with the practice to the police.

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Some 30 elders, also called concoction men for brewing the poisonous liquid made from local roots and herbs, have been given four goats, a bicycle each and food, and have been registered under the National Health Insurance. They are now known as "Life Promoters" and will be in charge of promoting the lives of "spirit children" by visiting schools and communities.

Afrikids has created 60 child rights clubs in schools in the region in order to help educate the community on the need to stop the practice of "spirit children" killings. Around 400 women have also received micro financing and will participate in awareness activities, including annual football tournaments and festivals, to help promote children's rights.

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