Superstition and Murder: The Fight Against Albinism-Related Killings Rages on in Zambia

When the community found the 37-year-old woman she was already dead. She had been brutally murdered, one hand had been cut off, and her teeth had been removed. She is one of 25,000 individuals who have albinism in the African country of Zambia. She is also one of at least ten people with albinism who are murdered each year in Zambia. Why are people with albinism targeted and killed?
Albinism is a genetic condition that arises from a lack of melanin, which results in the characteristic white skin and hair in people who have the condition.

People with albinism do not have melanin-which is the pigment that gives a person’s skin, hair, and eyes, color.

Many people living with the condition have eye problems, and they may be more likely to develop certain health conditions, like skin cancers. While those with this genetic condition may be more susceptible to certain discrimination and health issues, in some African countries they face even more frightening dangers.

Some people in places like Zambia and Tanzania believe that albino body parts can bring good luck or cure certain diseases.

Some witch doctors will pay upwards of $75,000 for a set of complete albino body parts, which makes anyone living with albinism in those areas a potential target.

Because of this, many albino people live in fear in these areas. Not only do they face the health risks of their condition, and often discrimination based on their different appearance, but they also face the threat of murder.

In 2016, about eight attacks on individuals with the disorder were recorded in Zambia. But people are speaking up and raising awareness about this issue. Many people with albinism are speaking. Thando Hopa, a young South African lawyer, says that while growing up she often tried to hide her condition. Now she is no longer ashamed and bares her white skin proudly. She is now working to end the discrimination that people with albinism face in Africa. Today, she walks the catwalk as a fashion model and hopes to make the condition, as well as the hardships, more visible to the larger public in a campaign called “White is Beautiful.”

The Human Rights Commission of Zambia has also come forward and said that they are going to take steps to improve the lives of these people within its borders. They have heard the complaints about people not having sunscreen to protect their skin and they are going to address this.

There is also an Albino Foundation of Zambia that has come together to campaign for equal rights and treatment for those with albinism, and to educate people on the fact that their bodies cannot be used for luck or to gain wealth. They want to end the fear that many people living with albinism have in these countries.

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