Ritual servitude

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Ritual servitude is a practice in Ghana, Togo, and Benin where traditional religious shrines (popularly called fetish shrines in Ghana) take human beings, usually young virgin girls in payment for services, or in religious atonement for alleged misdeeds of a family member—almost always a female. In Ghana and in Togo, it is practiced by the Ewe tribe in the Volta region, and in Benin it is practiced by the Fon.

These shrine slaves serve the priests, elders and owners of a traditional religious shrine without remuneration and without their consent, although the consent of the family or clan may be involved. Those who practice ritual servitude usually feel that the girl is serving the god or gods of the shrine and is married to the gods of the shrine.Field Findings on the System of Slavery Commonly Known as Trokosi, L W Rouster,M.R.E., ECMAfrica Publications, 2005, p. 1.

If a girl runs away or dies, she must be replaced by another girl from the family. Some girls in ritual servitude are the third or fourth girl in their family suffering for the same crime, sometimes for something as minor as the loss of trivial property.It is still practiced in the Volta region in Ghana, in spite of being outlawed in 1998, and despite carrying a minimum three year prison sentence for conviction. Among the Ewes who practice the ritual in Ghana, variations of the practice are...
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