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Gruesome resurgence of killings and kidnappings of people with albinism needs to stop

The persecutions of people with albinism take place mostly in Sub-Saharan African communities. Picture: Oupa Mokoena.

The persecutions of people with albinism take place mostly in Sub-Saharan African communities. Picture: Oupa Mokoena.

Published Jun 13, 2022

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Cape Town - In Tanzania, some 75 people living with albinism were reported killed between 2000 and 2016.

According to the United Nations, since November 2014, there have been more than 20 murders of people with albinism in Malawi and at least 170 attacks in total across Sub-Sahara Africa, and sadly, these are but only the cases that have been reported.

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In 2019, a Malawi court convicted and sentenced three people to death for killing a person with albinism.

Annually, June 13 has been set aside by the UN body to highlight and create awareness about the condition of albinism.

The theme for this year is “United in making our voice heard”.

The UN says that this theme was selected because including voices of persons with albinism is essential to ensure equality.

Furthermore, this day seeks to celebrate how groups of persons with albinism and individuals increase the visibility of persons with albinism in all domains of life and to encourage and celebrate unity among groups of persons with albinism; to amplify the voices and visibility of persons with albinism in all areas of life as well as to highlight the work being done by albinism groups around the world.

What is Albanism?

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Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited difference present at birth. In almost all types of albinism, both parents must carry the gene for it to be passed on, even if they do not have albinism themselves, according to the UN.

People with albinism have also been ostracised and even killed for exactly the opposite reason because they are presumed to be cursed and bring bad luck.

The persecution of people with albinism take place mostly in Sub-Saharan African communities, especially among East Africans.

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Furthermore, witchcraft accusations and ritual attacks against African children are hidden and ignored, yet are one of the most gruesome forms of violence against children, says the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF).

New research from the forum shows that every year, thousands of African children are accused of witchcraft and suffer ritual attacks, abuse and physical and psychological violence, yet most governments are turning a blind eye.

The ACPF says that among those in need of the greatest protection are children with albinism who face the most gruesome forms of ritual attacks, which result in extreme violence and death.

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“Such accusations and attacks are crimes and must be treated as such – they must be outlawed and punished.”

ACPF is greatly concerned that despite national child protection laws, witchcraft accusations and ritual attacks against children have been reported in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Niger, Angola, Eswatini, Liberia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Central African Republic, Nigeria and South Africa.

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