Etinosa Calls for Urgent Psycho-Social Support for Survivors of Branded Witches and Wizards”
In a powerful advocacy statement titled “It Is All In My Head,” a renowned activist and artist, a documentary photographer working in Nigeria, Etinosa Yyvone, in collaboration with the National Geographic Explorer and Basic Right Council Initiative, has championed the pressing need for immediate access to psycho-social support for survivors of people falsely accused of witches and wizards in our society.
Etinosa’s statement has been specifically focused on examining the impact of false accusations of witchcraft on the mental health of children, women, and elderly individuals.
In an advocacy campaign meeting held on Thursday in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, the group calls for urgent collaborative efforts to curb the menace of branded witches and wizards in the society.
The group uses the pilot states, Akwa Ibom and Cross River State to open up their awareness campaign for the immediate call.
Etinosa’s advocacy is part of a larger exhibition that strives to address the often-overlooked issue of false witchcraft accusations and its detrimental effects on the mental well-being of targeted individuals.
Collaborating closely with survivors, this chapter of the exhibition focuses specifically on the profound psychological impact these accusations have had on their lives.
Survivors of false witchcraft allegations frequently endure severe emotional trauma, leading to anxiety, depression, and even Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, support systems to aid in their recovery are severely lacking, leaving survivors to grapple with their mental health struggles largely unaided.
In an interview, Etinosa stated, “In our research carried out in the two pilot states, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states, in 2021 and after that, I knew that I have to come back, while I do not have data, but I tell you that among all the states that witchcraft hunt happens, especially from my findings, it’s one state that heightening several witchcraft accusations, killings, torture of both children and women and adults are happening and of cause, in Akwa Ibom”
“There was a time that there were the heightened amount of people that were being branded as witches children, adults, and elderly people, these two states where it has been height, especially in Cross River state, and see how we can dialogue”.
Etinosa further stated: “First of all, we need to let people understand the impact of this accusation, this torture, killings on the mental health of the people and advocate for the access for psycho-social support for the survivors but more importantly, to get the government to start to do the right, to start to take witchcraft accusations as a real issue that is causing their lives, endangering older people, because it looks like when you are being sold in Nigeria, you happen to be tagged as a witch most especially in this region” she stressed.
On her final note, Etinosa noted, “What I hoping for is that first of all, is to understand that when atrocities happen, we tend to focus on the physicality of it but there is something that happens psychologically to these people. Every time that you tag your child as witches and wizards, just know that you are damaging the psyche of the child, so it is for us to start paying attention to the mental health of the people”
“Government should take the responsibility and enforce laws which would checkmate the menace and awareness should be raised to put an end to this practice”
In his contribution, Barr. James Ibor, the Co-founder of Basic Right Counsel Initiative, (BRCI) commended the organizer of the Advocacy project, “It’s All In My Head” and suggested that the effort will pave the way for justice for the deprived.
He said, “In collaboration with the National Geographic Explorer, Etinosa …. For this project called “it’s all in my head”. At the end of what just started today, I have started seeing it just as the onion has layers, it has started unfolding, and I have seen the onion effect. I saw people weeping after going through the pictures, scriptures, stories, and art made life and I am happy the effect is on already. People are already relating to the sculptures and a lot of survivors, a lot of victims have not gotten justice” Barr. Ibor stressed.
Through her thought-provoking statement, Etinosa seeks to raise awareness about the urgent need for psycho-social support services tailored to the unique needs of survivors.
Her advocacy calls upon relevant authorities, particularly government of all levels, mental health professionals, and the wider public to acknowledge this issue and work collaboratively to establish accessible and comprehensive support networks.
Etinosa stresses the need to create a safe space for survivors to share their experiences, heal, and rebuild their lives. Psycho-social support programs should focus on providing survivor-centered care, including counseling, trauma-informed therapy, and community support networks.
By raising awareness of the mental health implications of false accusations of witchcraft, Yyvone’s bold advocacy statement aims to challenge societal perceptions and foster empathy and compassion towards those affected.
The statement serves as a wake-up call to action, urging the government of all levels, policymakers, and communities to prioritize the implementation of inclusive and accessible psycho-social support services.
As the exhibition continues to provoke dialogue and promote understanding, Etinosa Yyvone’s powerful advocacy statement “It Is All In My Head” catalyzes change. By ensuring immediate access to psycho-social support for survivors, we can begin to address the long-standing injustice of false witchcraft allegations and alleviate their profound impact on the mental health of the affected individuals.