Social Justice

Social Stigmatisation and Albinism

In my previous blog post, Top 6 absurd myths about Albinism, I mentioned that individuals with Albinism are being raped and killed because there are myths about Albinism can cure HIV. Furthermore, there are other myths that states eating the body parts of individuals with Albinism can give you magical power. Yes, it is hard to believe, but this is the world we live in.

Individuals with Albinism (IWA) are seen as a different race of individuals from their parent counterparts. These individuals tend to be mocked, teased, abused and treated poorly from all ethnic groups. This social stigmatism may lead to isolation and emotional suffering of individuals with Albinism. There are even cases where the parents of individuals with Albinism have repudiated and questioned the maternity and/or paternity relation to these individuals.  Mothers of children with Albinism are often repudiated by their husband and accused of sleeping with a white man, all because of lack of awareness and knowledge about Albinism. For instance, one of the oldest and most significant stories of Albinism happened in 1735, where two slaves were married and the woman gave birth to a child with Albinism. Upon hearing that her child was white, she was in great dread of her husband. She thought she might be accused of sleeping with a white man. However, he was pleased and behaved with extraordinary tenderness when he saw his child. More recently, in January of 2015, Angela Ihegboro gave birth to her daughter who has Albinism. At first, she was “speechless”, according to Roland Martin Reports. She didn’t understand what happened. How comes she gave birth to a white baby? She was informed by the nurses and doctors that she had given birth to an albino. At times, I wonder if my mother acted the same way. She did inform that my dad did ask if “mini-me” was his child and what went wrong. Parents often feel that teasing and name-calling, insensitivity, and ignorance are the greatest challenges that they face with, in regards to their child’s albinism. The support and love from families and friends are essential ingredients to help these children to understand and accept themselves.

According to the Human Rights group for people with Albinism, the dehumanisation of these individuals is the worst form of the discrimination faced by individuals with Albinism. There have been hundreds of ritual attacks against individuals with Albinism each day, particularly children, have been reported in various countries worldwide. Many of these attacks are undocumented and not reported to the proper authority. At times, these ritual attacks are accepted within various ethnic groups and cultures. As a result, reporting a case to the proper authority may lead to more trouble.

Individuals with Albinism aren’t protected by the law, especially in West Africa. Ikponwosa Ero, the first independent United Nations’ expert on albinism, has promised to

UN Albinism expert
Ikponwosa Ero, United Nation’s first independent albinism expert

use her legal expertise to end the vicious attacks against albinos by people seeking to use their body parts for rituals and witchcraft, according to Reuters. Ikponwosa revealed at a conference in Nairobi, Kenya that she was constantly abused for having Albinism while growing up. She could not walk the streets of Nigeria without being insulted and assaulted. In Jamaica, it is not so bad. Albinos will be insulted but not assaulted, at least that’s if they don’t react to the insult negatively in a physical manner. In countries like Tanzania, Kenya and Malawi, I know I nor any albino will not be safe. Witch doctors will want our body parts to bring about luck and wealth.

If you are an individual with Albinism, please be safe and travel wisely. This world has more hidden enemies than you think. If you have friends who have albinism, please inform them of what you’ve learned.

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