Trying to end a murder spree

The international community is working to fight widespread ignorance about albinism

by Erica Alini

Trying to end a murder spree

Reuters

Activists across the world are raising awareness about the dangers faced by Africa’s albino men and women. They have been the targets in a spate of gruesome killings that have left at least 71 dead since 2008 in Tanzania and Burundi (the actual number may be over 100). Murders have also been reported in Kenya, Uganda and Swaziland; victims are usually found dismembered, as killers sell their body parts, which some African witches claim have magical healing powers. African governments have responded with severe sentences for murders, stricter monitoring of traditional healers, or plans to set up registries for albinos, as Swaziland announced in October.

And the international community is working to fight widespread ignorance about albinism, a medical condition that leaves people without pigment in their skin, hair, and eyes. UKAid in the British Department of International Development recently financed the production of Hawa ni Wenzetu (“they are like us”), a 55-minute documentary on albinos that seeks to dispel prejudice and superstitions about them. Last year, the Red Cross teamed up with Salif Keita, a popular Malian singer who is himself albino, to launch an appeal for better protection of albinos.




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