This is a clip from one of my interviews during the research phase of the Trokosi drama SENA. In it Julie Dogbadzi, made famous by receiving the Reebok Human Rights Award,
talks about the beatings she endured while enslaved in the shrine.
Trokosi ("wife of the gods") is a traditional religious practice in Ghana and neighbouring countries whereby young virgin girls are made slaves to shrines for offenses allegedly committed by a member of their family. To appease local gods, young virgin girls are bonded to the priest of the shrine for life and become their domestic and sexual servants.
The bondage dates back to the 17 century and is practiced in neighbouring Togo, Benin and Nigeria, where it is believed to have originated.
The Trokosi system - a form of modern day slavery - is believed to be Ghana's most fundamental human rights problem today.
In June of 1998, the Criminal Code of 1960, Act 29 was amended to outlaw harmful traditional practices including the Trokosi system but shrines still remain in existence.
To date hundreds of young women have been liberated but it is estimated that there are still girls and women who remain dedicated as Trokosi; girls as young as 8.
Sena is an innocent 10 year old girl in rural Ghana who one day dreams of becoming a nun. This dream is shattered when she is secretly sent off to a shire to atone for a crime that she did not commit as a part of an ancient traditional practice. In the shire she suffers numerous atrocities and inhumanities. She is raped repeatedly by the priest and is forced to work without pay. She tries to escape and even attempts suicide but is not successful. When she gives birth to a daughter, who she names Sena, she leaves her on the church steps with hopes that her daughter will have a better life than her.
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