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Friday, 22 December, 2000, 18:05 GMT
Accra march against multiple murders
march in Accra
Relatives of victims were among the protesters
By Kwaku Sakyi-Addo in Accra

Hundreds of people in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, have marched to within a hundred metres of the seat of the Presidency, The Castle, to protest at the unsolved killings of women in the city.

Wearing red and black mourning clothes, the protesters sat on the road leading up to the well-fortified Castle gates.


The women who've been killed ... have a right to police protection

Human rights activist.
They sang funeral dirges and carried placards some of which read: "Behind every human rights abuse is a coward","Women are not rats" and "President Rawlings, speak up."

At least 31 women have been killed in Accra in the past three years under mysterious circumstances, and police suspect it may be the work of a serial killer or killers.

Four women have been killed in as many weeks, the most recent of which occured on Monday. The police have failed to find any culprits.

Theories

Most of the victims were strangled, naked and left lying supine, and in some instances had syringe marks on their arms, according to police.

There are suspicions too that the purpose of the killings may be occultic; others say it is a group of wild and depraved men on the loose.

Among the protesters was a woman whose sister was one of the victims. She said her sister had left behind five young children.

There was a heavy security presence at the Castle.

A delegation of five, led by Professors Kwame Karikari and Akua Kuenyehia, both of the University of Ghana, sent in a petition and expected to meet President Jerry Rawlings.

Resignation call

They met his chief of staff Nana Ato Dadzie instead whom the marchers refused to listen to when he came out to address them. "We want the President! We want the President!" they chanted.

John Kufuor
Presidential candidate John Kufuor made the killings an election issue
In their petition, they demanded the resignation of the Inspector-General of Police, Peter Nanfuri, and a show of commitment from the Rawlings administration.

They lashed out at senior police personnel, including the police chief, who have warned women to stay away from the streets at night.

One police superintendent told BBC: "We've been telling them not to go out at night but we still see them after midnight standing in corners. I think they're prostitutes and they're not listening to us."

"That's complete rubbish," said Vicky Okine, a human rights activist. "The women who've been killed aren't harlots and, in any case, they also have a right to police protection."

Political issue

With just a few days left to the Presidential election run-off, the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) is wary that the protest may have been orchestrated by the opposition to win votes.

"The women who've been killed are our wives and sisters too and this matter shouldn't be politicised for cheap political gain," said Chief of Staff Dadzie pointing to an opposition MP among the protesters.

Indeed, the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) issued a statement earlier this week saying that there were suspicions that "some big men are behind the killings".

Police chief Nanfuri refused to comment when asked about this at a press conference on Tuesday.

"Sisters Keepers," a coalition of women's groups which organised the march, said they wanted public safety to be put to be top of the political agenda.

Now it is. But the long-term solutions to insecurity on Accra's streets may take a while yet.

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19 Dec 00 | Africa
Ghana: Women killer strikes again
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