ALBINISM IN AFRICA:
Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited condition occurring in both genders regardless of ethnicity, in all countries of the world. It can happen to anyone if both father and mother carry the gene for it to be passed on even if they do not have albinism themselves. While numbers vary, in North America and Europe it is estimated that 1 in every 20,000 people have some form of albinism. In Tanzania, and throughout East Africa, albinism is much more prevalent, with estimates of 1 in 2,000 people being affected. Albinism results in a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes, causing vulnerability to sun exposure and bright light. Almost all people with albinism are visually impaired; they may have a shortened life span by lung disease or may develop life-threatening skin cancers.
In several African countries, it is believed that body parts of persons with albinism possess magical powers capable of bringing riches if used in potions produced by local witchdoctors. Some even believe that the witchcraft is more powerful if the victim screams during the amputation, so body parts are often cut from live victims.
“These are manifestations of the worst forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and can never be justified,” the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez said. “Under international human rights law it is the duty of the State to afford protection to persons with albinism against such barbaric acts.”