News / Africa

    Ritual Killings of People With Albinism Increase in Tanzania

    FILE - Said Abdallah lost his left hand in a April 10, 2010 attack.
    FILE - Said Abdallah lost his left hand in a April 10, 2010 attack.
    Lisa Schlein

    United Nations human rights officials report a spike in ritual attacks and killings of people with albinism in Tanzania.  They are calling for greater protection for these people who face a dire situation and are extremely vulnerable.  

    The U.N. Human Rights Office reports five new attacks against people with albinism occurred over an 11-day period in Tanzania this month.  This, it says, brings the number of attacks since 2000 to 151, including 74 murders.

    Albinism is a genetically inherited condition, in which people lack pigmentation.  While it is very rare in most parts of the world, affecting one in 20,000 people, it is quite common in sub-Saharan Africa.  In Tanzania, one in 1,400 people are born with this condition.

    U.N. human rights official Alicia Loudono, who has just returned from a mission to Tanzania, says she is very concerned by the marginalization, discrimination and persecution to which people with albinism are subjected in Africa.  She says they are portrayed as ghosts, as devils, as people who bring bad luck, death or sickness.

    “The worst form of discrimination is the ritual attacks.  These are rooted in superstition….Body parts of persons with albinism are used for witchcraft purposes.  There is this belief in certain countries that body parts have magical powers and if used in potions produced by witch doctors it will bring wealth and power," said Loudono.

    As a result, people with albinism are mutilated for their body parts.  Loudono says a limb can fetch thousands of dollars on the black market.  She says a person who has had an arm or a leg cut off is usually left unattended and bleeds to death.    

    Victims who survive usually receive no communal support or legal assistance.  

    Non-governmental organizations have documented 328 attacks in 24 different countries since 2000.  They include Burundi, Ivory Coast and Swaziland.  Most attacks occur in rural areas.

    Early in 2013, there was a spike in the number of these ritual attacks.  Loudono says on her trip to Tanzania, everyone linked the recent attacks to the presidential election set for October 2015.

    “There is this common knowledge of people with albinism, that attacks increase when there is [an] election.  One of the reasons they say is that there are some politicians that use witchcraft for gaining power.  This is part of their belief…for winning elections, for being more rich, etc," she said.

    While in Tanzania, Loudono visited several centers for children with special needs where children with albinism are warehoused.  She says these centers were originally intended as temporary, but have now become a long-term solution.

    She says the conditions in which these children are kept are appalling.  They are overcrowded and unhygienic, and the children are subject to corporal punishment, threats and sexual abuse.

    The worst aspect of these centers, she says, is that these children lose all contact with their families.  

    Instead of segregating these children from their communities, she says, the Tanzanian authorities should make every effort to integrate them back into their homes and societies.

     

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora