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Group condemns brutalization of widow over witchcraft allegations, demands justice



A group, Oxfam Nigeria has condemned in strong terms the dehumanization and brutalization of a widow identified as Mrs. Amarachi Okechi of Umueghu in Amaegbuato autonomous community, in Nkpa Bende Local Government Area of Abia State.

In a viral video on social media, Mrs. Okechi was seen with her hands tied behind her back, her feet tied together seating on a bare floor in a public space, and publicly flogged in turns by the young men in the community said to be led by her brother-in-law, reportedly because her husband’s brother’s wife accused her of being a witch.

While the horrendous humiliation and assault was going on, bystanders cheered, jeered, and were seen filming the appalling spectacle.

“Sadly, it is a double jeopardy to be a woman and a widow in many communities in Nigeria where such women are accused of being the witches that caused their husbands’ death, get their hair forcefully cut, forced to drink the dirty and contaminated water used to wash their husbands’ corpses to prove their innocence, forced to wear black clothes with their shaved heads uncovered, forced to sit and sleep on bare floors, get sent out of their matrimonial homes with their underaged children, banished from participating in communal socio-economic activities, and get their husband’s belongings forcefully taken away from them” lamented Dr. Vincent Ahonsi, Country Director, Oxfam International.

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“We are disturbed that such unfair, harmful and dehumanizing traditional practices are still in existence, and in some communities tolerable, in a democratic Nigeria of 2022 with women and girls having their freedom and rights disrespected and abused” – said Dr. Ahonsi

He stressed that Oxfam was committed to, and working purposively to ensure that Nigerian women and girls are able to realize their full and equal rights and potentials, and be free from all forms of violence, and will collaborate with partners and government agencies to ensure that justice was served in Mrs. Amarachi Okechi’s case.

According to him, “We will continue to work with relevant authorities, partners, stakeholders and communities to challenge culturally accepted practices that treat women and girls as second-class citizens” as contained in a statement by Rita Abiodun, Media Consultant, Oxfam Nigeria.

By Yemi Kanji

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