People with Albinism still face mutilation in parts of Africa

Photocredit: Patricia Willocq Photography

Colourism is not only a problematic issue in our continent but is elevated to a life threatening cause. indigenous African Albinos barely feel in a safe space in 7 of our 54 nations.

New independent UN Expert Ikponwosa Ero alerted that people with albinism are being hacked off with machetes, hunted for witch craft rituals and have their graves dug out. With only eight months in research, there have been reports of 40 attacks across 7 countries in rural areas that were never previously reported. Certain instances including victims’ family members being complicit to this heinous crime.

In the black market, body parts of people with albinism are traded on high rising prices. Prices range  from $2000 for a limb to $75 000 for the corpse. There have also been reports of victims being mutilated while they are still alive. Having their limbs, eyes, heads and hair hacked off. The belief here is that medicine is only more effective when a victim screams. These are all stimulated by myths, such as the belief that albinos are not human beings, but sub-humans or ghosts and just disappear. Women with albinism have reported sexual assaults, as there are also myths that sex with women with albinism cures HIV/AIDS. Children are usually at the forefront of discrimination and assault as there is also a belief that the younger, and more innocent they are, the stronger the traditional medicine is.

On an international front, Ero sees addressing this issue under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Seeing that these govern the concept of racial discrimination based on race, colour, descent, national and/or ethnic origin. The issue can still be address on an international platform as albinism is met with stigma and discrimination across the global society, and indifference garnered with passivity has been a constant response to individual cases.

In her report, she further stated that an immediate and effective plan of action to wipe out any form of attacks must be implemented. This includes the immediate investigation of allegations and prosecuting alleged perpetrators. Further, appropriating legal, social, psychological and medical assistance particularly for victims, as well as re-integrating displaced victims into a safe society.

 

View her full report on behalf of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights here