Albinism, in humans “is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes due to absence or defect of tyrosinase, a copper-containing enzyme involved in the production of melanin.” Albinism does not discriminate. It appears on every continent, in every ethnicity and sex of the world including animal life. What does vary is the education, discrimination, and superstitions still practiced even today.
June 13 recognizes International Albinism Awareness Day, which was first adopted by the UN General Assembly last June 13, 2015. On March 11, 2015 previous to the resolution, DiplomatArtist.com reported “Children facing education and social rejection, medical and psychological problems, and confinement to poverty are human rights concerns for albino children in East African countries including Tanzania, Malawi, and Burundi. But in the past six months, worse atrocities have occurred as vicious attacks, abductions, and brutal killings have been witnessed including the death of a one-year old baby. (See: “East African Albino Children Viciously Attacked & Targeted”)
Tragically, just one week before “International Albinism Awareness Day” this year, nsnbc reports: “A six-year-old albino boy has been murdered and dismembered by unknown assailants in the central Mozambican city of Chimoio. The murder is believed to be linked to the use of human albino body parts in traditional “medicines” and rituals or cultural prejudice.” (See: “Six-Year-Old Albino Boy in Mozambique Murdered for His Body Parts”)
Head of Manica Provinicial Police Command Public Relations explained: “Mozambique appears to have imported from Tanzania the notion that body parts of albinos contain certain miraculous powers, and when used in black magic rituals can bring wealth and power … The bandits cut the boy into pieces. .. They took the hair, the arms and the legs and abandoned the rest of the body in a sack”.
Yesterday, UNSG Ban Ki-moon welcomed the first Independent Expert on the human rights of people with albinism, Ms. Ikponwosa Ero. “In 2013, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling for the prevention of attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism. In response to the call from civil society organizations advocating for persons with albinism to be considered a specific group with particular needs that require special attention, the Council created the mandate of this Independent Expert in March 2015.” (See: On Albinism Awareness Day, Ban Urges All Countries to Break Cycle of Attacks & Discrimination)
So, where have we come in a year and a half to reject taboos, end discrimination, and further education providing adequate heath care for albinos who may suffer vision problems and susceptibility to infection including sunburn and skin cancers? Sadly we fail.
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By, Susan Sacirbey @DiplomaticallyX