An expert on modern slavery, Dr. Kevin Bales stated “It’s as if all identity has been stolen from them, except their identity as slaves. ” This statement is exemplified when you look at the Trokosi sex slaves of West Africa. At a very young age Mewornovi Kokou was taken from her family and enslaved by a local priest to atone for her distant relatives crimes (Booker, 1996).
Young girls from all over this particular region have to endure life-long suffrage at the hands of “priests” due to ancient beliefs.
There are many different aspects when it comes to the Trokosi sex slaves. One has to take into account the ethics of religion, culture, and greed when drawing a conclusion to whether Trokosi sex slavery should be permitted. Trokosi is a century’s long practice of taking a virgin girl from their family and giving them to a local priest to keep from bad spirits from coming down upon the household due to crimes committed from times past.
The meaning of the work Trokosi is explained by taking tro meaning ‘god’ or ‘shrine’ and kosi meaning ‘slave’. Asamoah-Gyadu, 2004) Trokosi originates from the same belief system as voodoo and is practiced in at least 12 shrines in Ghana and many others in Togo and Benin (Booker, 1996).
The enslaved girls and women endure a life long servitude to the priest. The Trokosi have a multitude of jobs when it comes to pleasing their owner. The young girls and woman are expected to work in the fields all day and submit to every sexual desire the priest may have. Another job of the Trokosi is to bear the priests’ children which also become slaves to him.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave girl is a novel written by Harriet Jacobs, a woman who was born into slavery in 1813 near Edenton, North Carolina. This book is one of the many slave narratives written in early African-American literature. These types of narratives were a dominant literary factor used in the early works of African-American literature. The two main themes being portrayed throughout ...
Another added bonus for the priest is that he is not responsible for the food, clothing, or medical care of the young woman or his offspring under his power. These responsibilities are expected to be taken care of by the original parents of the girls (Booker, 1996).
Today’s society views slavery as a taboo issue even though it has been a part of life for nearly as long as the human race has existed. modern slave trade like in the case of the Trokosi sex slaves is shunned upon by the educated masses but still holds a place in third world countries. There are two schools of thought when it comes to modern slavery.
People are either against it no matter what the explanation or reasoning. Then there is a small population that believes slavery is a right. These are the people that work in the slave trade industry or have slaves themselves. Unfortunately today’s society is run by money and greed. Due to the gain in power and money the modern slave trade industry is booming. Most major religions set a high standard for many people’s ethical values. Whether you are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist major religions have had cases in each that slavery is recognized and practiced.
Bernadette Brooten, a professor of Christian Studies at Brandeis University made reference to how slavery was tolerated in the Bible, the Talmud, the Koran and early Islamic law. (Nebenzahl, 2006) Religion is the main motivation when it comes to the Trokosi sex slaves in Western Africa. Centuries filled with the act of Trokosi have made it ethically accepted in the regions it is practiced. Walter Pimpomg, the director of International Needs, explains the practice by saying “It is the fetish priest, or the traditional priest, who stands in for the gods.
Slavery has been around since the beginning of man. It took place in the Old Testament and in Babylon in the 18th Century BC. It has not always been the same. It has changed dramatically. All of the slavery around the world in ancient times influenced and became slavery in the United States. In ancient times slavery was very different.The slaves were treated in a very different manner. They ...
So these girls belong to the gods. They are also the priests’ slaves. After her third menstrual cycle, the priest will have sex with the girl, which will bring into “completion” some of the rituals that he has to perform. The priests justify this by sating that trokosi are like priestesses who copulate with the gods through their earthly servants. ”(Robson, 2006) Ghana is a land that has quite a few religions but Christianity is the most dominate with Islam following in a distant second. Asamoah-Gyadu, 2004) Since religion plays a major part in a person’s ethical value the examination of Christianity and thoughts toward the practice of Trokosi should be investigated. There are many missions that are at work within the borders of Ghana trying to put an end to the Trokosi practice. In an attempt to help victims of generational curses to heal their past, African Pentecostal/Charismatic ministries, urge people to break decisively with the past, take their destinies into their own hands, and make personal choices regarding how they relate to the God of Christian salvation.
Instead of just telling the priests that hold the young women captive that it is wrong they offer a solution of guidance and wisdom through Christianity. The culture of many nations also plays a factor in the ethics when it comes to modern slavery. In the United States people look at the Trokosi sex slaves as being inhumane. The United States is a young nation where slavery played a big part in the growth of the nation and still the ethical outlook is unacceptable. In both Africa and the United States there are still problems with the enslavement of human beings.
Priests think that it is their right to have these slaves because that is what the “Gods” want. Greed also plays a big factor when it comes to the Trokosi sex slaves. Most of the world agrees that slavery should be a thing of the past. Fortunately there are many organizations out there that come to the aid of enslaved woman and men. The nation of Ghana outlawed Trokosi in 1998 but still have not made one arrest even though the practice still continues today (Rinaudo, 2003).
Since many families are from an impoverished background with little education they accept these traditions as law.
The statement "had the leaders of this country controlled the extremists on both sides the war could have been avoided" is totally false. The Civil War was definitely unavoidable. Because of regional and political disputes the country would have continued to boil even if the extremists on both sides were kept under control. The true statement is "No matter what was done politically a conflict was ...
This is where the humanity of Western Africa comes into question. These nations were the hardest hit during the Atlantic Slave Trade of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. People from the region saw the mental and physical devastation of tribes, villages, and families due to slavery but still allow the practice to go on in their own backyards. Human beings are the most intelligent life form to roam this earth. And most people can agree that it is human nature to want to set a path that ensures the survival and what is best to preserve self-interest.
In the paper Moving Beyond Dehumanisation and Greed in the Light of African Economics Ethics – A Statement, author Munyardzi Murove states that the term self-interest can be interchangeable with greed. (Murove, 2008) The priests that enslave the woman have to have an element of greed to keep with a tradition that essentially takes a person’s life away from them. Religion seems to be the driving factor behind the Trokosi sex slaves of Ghana and west Africa. This practice was set up to have a family atone for a person’s past transgressions.
You also have to look at the culture and tradition of a community before you condemn the practices that take part. Trokosi has been a tradition that has been a part of tribal life for centuries. Most people can agree that slavery is not a practice that should be performed but if a heritage is prevalent should they have a right to run their tribe and believe what they think is right? You also have to take into consideration human nature. Greed has to be considered a major player when talking about the Trokosi sex slaves.
Slavery in any form should be avoided due to the rights one has taken from them after becoming a slave but this is one instance when a person believes it is their god given right to enslave the woman for his gratification. Unfortunately this is a situation where the tribe people have to believe that is no longer a tradition that should be practiced.