By Joanita Mbabazi
Persons with albinism suffer discrimination and at times become victims of witchcraft sacrifice hence infringing on their inherent rights.
According to Isaac Maigua Mwaura, a member of the Kenyan Senate, who is also the National Coordinator Albinism Society of Kenya, many persons with albinism have been killed for ritual purposes under the belief that their body parts can bring good fortune or cure diseases.
“The attacks take the form of murder, mutilation, rape and even to an extent of exhuming their bodies for those who pass on and their body parts are sold off,”says Maigua.
Maigua says cases of persons with albinism that have been reported to have lost lives due to sacrifice ritulas include 178 in Tanzania, 38 in Burundi, 13 in Kenya and 8 in Uganda.
Senator Maigua is part of the delegation of persons with albinism from Western, Eastern and Southern Africa who is encouraging continental legislatures to take up issues of albinism to their national parliaments.
They were briefing Pan African Parliament MPs on the Committee of Justice and Human Rights and the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline on which some of the legislators from which the East African Region sit.
Overstone Kondowe, the President of the Association of Albinism in Malawi, said that in Southern Africa countries, many attacks and murders target women and children with Malawi having the highest number of reported attacks at 136, followed by Mozambique (45), Swaziland (11) and South Africa (08).
MPs some of whom come from countries where persons with albinism are persecuted desired for an improved way of life for persons with albinism.
Hon. Babirye Veronica Kadogo Buyende Woman MP (Uganda) where many persons with albinism in Uganda are found,says she has undertaken attempts to have persons with albinism get funding from government to help some of them who are too needy but all in vain.
“Persons with albinism are not recognised as persons with disabilities in most cases yet they are, explaining why government has no programme to address their needs,”says Kadogo .
Honourable Kadogo adds on that she addressed the concerns of persons with albinism in parliament during discussions on the budget with a view of government allocating funding and removing taxes on products used by persons with albinism but this has always remained on paper.
“We need a law to protect these people as well , taxes on cosmetics for persons with albinism should be scrapped off and a special budget to cater for the needs of persons with albinism,” says honorable Kadogo.
Honorable Janet Kabila (DRC) advised that it is mportant to also to know the root causes of the attacks on persons with albinism.
She says the population in Africa needs to be sensitized about the rights of persons with albinism and this should start with parliamentarians in their constituencies where there are families that have people with albinism.
She says root causes of the attacks sometimes is poverty and the beliefs that show ignorance about albinism but this doesn’t guarantee these wicked people to see persons with albinism as a source of wealth.
At regional level, the continental parliament was asked to develop a guiding document, policy or model law to address the problem, for national parliaments they have to amend the trafficking in persons law to include provisions on persons with albinism.
Governments have been asked to commission the urgent registration of persons with albinism and domesticate the Regional Action Plan on Albinism in Africa.
East African legislators were also implored to set aside a budget to address the education and health related rights of people with albinism and consider appointing persons with albinism deliberately into senior positions in both public and private sector to promote their visibility.
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