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Women's Rights

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Julie Jenkins

on 18 October 2017

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Transcript of Women's Rights

Women's Rights, Religion, & 'Culture':
The Case of the Trokosi & Fiasidi

"Trokosi as Slaves"
--"those who have been appointed by their families to serve in the shrines as reparation for crimes committed by other members of the family"
--takes on punishment by becoming a slave
--initiated without consent
--sexually abused by priests
--physically abused by priests
--forced to work for priests
--no right to education, health care
--stigmatized by community & family
Punctured Hope
Film by Toronto Pictures
"Fiasidi as Queens"
Julie A. Jenkins, PhD
Skidmore College
“Some people claim that people who are admitted into the Troxovi Institution are there to atone for the crimes of their relations. This notion is false (or at best a misconception) because admission...is a privilege extended to a family which fails to properly bring up its members to be of good behaviour....[the Fiasidi] is meant to be educated to become a role model in his/her family in particular and society in general” (ARM)

"The Fiasidi, the sign-post, is not a slave nor a prisoner.”
"'A culture' need not be homogeneous, or even particularly coherent. Instead of assuming far-reaching cultural sharing, a 'replication of uniformity,' we should take a distributive view of cultures as systems of
meaning...(look at culture) in more processual terms. There is a 'management of meaning' by which culture is generated and maintained, transmitted and received, applied, exhibited, remembered, scrutinized and experimented with." (Hannerz 1998)
Why are women initiated?
Why do people go to shrines?
offense against deity's 'children'
• “Mama Vena - Do you have property for the girl, because she is here for your crimes [nuvɔ]? Haven’t you given her property?
• Lineage Representative - No, but we have been discussing this.
• Mama Vena - Are you going to employ her in trade? Since you have given her no property?
• Zeklor [shrine representative] - They will do this after school.
Mama Vena - I want her to go to secondary school. The reason is if they are no more, their children might be Christians and will not help. She should have property too so she will be taken care of. If you do not have family land
to give her to farm, then you need to buy some.
• Zeklor - Togbui [the priest] said this about the property. The family agreed to contribute and provide land for her.
• Mama Vena - If they have done it, the deaths in their family will stop.
Lineage Representative - Look at us. The family is reducing. Help us get the money to buy it.
Mama Vena - When they are coming, they said, look the white is following them [referring to me] and there are many, but when they go back, the prominent is only three. Only three are true. The others have faint hearts.
• Lineage Representative - These are the members that have come, so Mama Vena should help convince the others.
• Mama Vena - Are you sure what you are saying is true because there are rich people in the family. If they refuse to come and help the girl, there will be more deaths...you cannot bring a fiasidi and refuse to be with her
• Zeklor - There should be no more deaths. Those who refuse, Mama Vena should come [convince them].
• Mama Vena - Those that say they are Christians and will not come, when they go to church and open the bible to teach them, they will be shown the truth [I questioned, interpreted to mean they will be shown their evil deeds]...Make sure to help the fiasidi go to secondary school. They brought her to be a fiasidi...
Is she a sacrifice?
What does that mean in terms of her rights?
“If you do not understand then your house will be ruined. (Understand what?) If you do not understand Togbui [the deity], and you leave your fiasidi, your house will break. If you take care of the fiasidi, your house will be fine... Some people they do not understand and their house is broken. Their work is not successful...”
--'mamawo', Grandmother
--not socially dead, but embedded in lineage
--transforms dangerous relationship between lineage and deity
Did violations occur in other shrines?
Full transcript