UN rights office launches website dedicated to debunking myths of albinism

UN rights office launches website dedicated to debunking myths of albinism

[JURIST] The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] launched a website on Tuesday aimed at disproving [official website] the myths of albinism, the rare condition which is still misunderstood both socially and medically. Albinism affects from one in 5,000 to one in 15,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Health Organization [official website]. Hundreds of ritual attacks against persons with albinism, specifically children, have been reported in many different countries, and more cases may remain undocumented or unreported because victims are ostracized in many cases. At least 15 albinos have been abducted, wounded or killed the past six months in different African countries. The website contains information on key human rights issues that people with albinism deal with on a daily basis, including stories from musicians, athletes, activists, doctors and judges who are working to make an effort to falsify the myths and make sure that people with albinism can live a life without fear and violence.

The treatment of albinos in Africa and neighboring countries has been a highly contested human rights issue for many years. In August the OHCHR said that the Tanzanian government’s system of placing children with albinism in government care centers does not provide this vulnerable group with adequate protection [JURIST report] from those who target albinos due to erroneous beliefs and superstitions. Last May then-UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for increased protection [press release] for people with albinism after the murder of a 40-year old woman with albinism, adding that the killing demonstrated that the human rights situation for people with albinism in Tanzania and other countries remains dire. In March 2013 Pillay condemned the increase [JURIST report] in attacks on those with albinism in Tanzania. Her statement came after four attacks on albinos, including three children, took place over a 16-day period. Up to that point there were 72 murders of albinos since 2000 in Tanzania.