File photo: Ben Curtis / AP
Cape Town – People living with albinism continue to suffer severe discrimination in their homes, workplaces and schools and some are killed as a result of misconceptions.

Yesterday marked the annual International Albinism Awareness Day, a day used to raise awareness and to call on the world to recognise, celebrate and stand in solidarity with people with albinism.

Albinism is a rare genetic condition that reduces the amount of melanin pigment formed in the skin, hair or eyes and occurs in all racial and ethnic groups throughout the world.

With this year’s theme “Still standing strong”, the UN said people with albinism continued to face challenges that undermined their enjoyment of human rights.

Cape Peninsula University of Cape Town (CPUT) administrator of disability support Delicia De Vos said living with albinism was very hard as there was still a stigma about it.

“People just talk about all kinds of nasty things. They just don’t care how that is affecting you or how you feel.

"The stigma is still there, we get discriminated against a lot. For example, some people wouldn’t even want to sit next to you on the bus, church or anywhere.

"You greet a person and she/he wouldn’t want to hold your hand. It is very hard but we get used to that,” she said.

As part of her job, De Vos is responsible for assisting students with disabilities with their applications, registrations, bursary applications and other day-to-day support.

De Vos said the most difficult thing she was confronted with was people’s negative perceptions about albinism and those living with it.

“People are so misinformed and it is difficult to even start a conversation with them. They just judge you by looking at you. People’s attitudes, the lack of knowledge and being afraid of things different from them, are the biggest problems fuelling stigmas and misconception.”

De Vos said her wish was to motivate and inspire young people living with albinism to never give up in life.

Cape Times