Thousands of people with albinism are at huge risk of being abducted and killed in Sub-Saharan African communities, especially among East Africans. Malawi is one such country whose superstitious beliefs are perpetuating attacks on people with albinism. Many people believe that the body parts of a person with albinism are thought to transmit magical powers. These beliefs are exploited by witch doctors and others who use the parts as ingredients for rituals, concoctions, and potions, with the claim that ‘the magic’ will bring prosperity to the user.
The perpetrators of these attacks/killings go unpunished and the rise of the attacks appear to be on the increase. Amnesty International is calling on the president of Malawi Peter Mutharika to:
- Protect people with albinism from attacks.
- Give the police force resources to adequately investigate crimes related to albinism.
- Bring the perpetrators to justice.
- Tackle the superstitious beliefs that bring about attacks on people with albinism
Below are two examples copied and pasted directly from amnestyinternational.org.uk describing such attacks:
Nine-year-old Harry snatched from his family
Harry Mokoshini was abducted on the night of 26 February when a gang of men broke into the family home in Moto Village, Machinga district. They took Harry from his mother, threatening and injuring her as they kidnapped her son before her eyes.
Police found Harry’s severed head in a neighbouring village on 3 March.
Harry’s uncle has since been arrested in connection with the boy’s abduction and murder, along with another man who has an existing conviction for possessing the bones of someone with albinism. He had been fined the equivalent of $30 USD for the crime in 2015.
Baby Whitney taken from her home
Two-year-old Whitney Chilumpha disappeared on the night of 3 April from her home in Chiziya village, Kasungu District. Whitney’s mum alerted the neighbours and they set about searching for the toddler, but Whitney was nowhere to be seen. The mother reported her missing daughter to the police.
On 15 April, baby Whitney’s skull, teeth and the clothes she had been wearing were discovered in a nearby village.
Police are keeping Whitney’s father and another man in custody over her disappearance and murder.
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