NGO Condemns Media that Continues to Stigmatize Albinism


Albinism has not only been historically stigmatized, but has fueled superstition, misbeliefs, and discrimination in areas across the globe. For example, in certain areas, children with albinism may be abandoned by their families as people believe that albinism is spiritual punishment; in other areas, people with albinism are killed and their body parts, believed to hold powers, are sold on the black market. In an article for Punch, Adeyinka Adedipe discusses how the non-governmental organization (NGO) the Initiative for Advancement of the Albinism Cause recently condemned social media content that continues to stigmatize albinism in Nigeria. 

In her statement, the NGO’s founder—Miss Joy Odigie—argued against this continued stigmatization and discrimination. She expressed concern over the idea that negative social media content could drive increased violence against people with albinism. In Nigeria, people with albinism are already at an increased risk of human or body part trafficking, murder, and other forms of harm. 

From using derogatory terms like “albino” rather than “person with albinism” to reinforcing negative imagery or ideas of people with albinism in films or television, the media has the potential to continue perpetuating harmful ideology. Miss Odigie argues that increased education around albinism, as well as better legislation and policies to support human rights, is urgently needed. 

An Overview of Albinism

Albinism refers to a group of rare inherited disorders in which the body produces little or no melanin. Melanin determines your hair, skin, and eye color. It also plays a role in ocular function. Different gene mutations cause different forms of albinism. Regardless of form, most people with albinism are sensitive to sun exposure and have a heightened risk of skin cancer development. Symptoms and characteristics of albinism can include:

  • Strabismus (crossed eyes) 
  • Light, pinkish skin that may develop lentigines, moles, or freckles with sun exposure
  • Extreme nearsightedness or farsightedness
  • Eyes that are very sensitive to light
  • Astigmatism and blurred vision
  • Nystagmus (involuntary eye movements) 
  • Light-blue to brown-colored eyes in which the irises appear translucent or red in certain lighting
  • Hair that ranges from very white to brown 

Individuals can manage their condition by avoiding sun exposure, wearing sunscreen, avoiding tanning beds, and visiting the ophthalmologist and dermatologist frequently.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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