Tarzania: Ritual Killings of Albinos On The Increase


The United Nations human rights officials has reported a spike in ritual attacks and killings of people with albinism in Tanzania. They are calling for greater protection for these people who face a dire situation and are extremely vulnerable.

The Tarzania government is doing everything in it's power to protect these children with Albinism from widespread superstitious beliefs that human albino body parts will bring wealth and success or cure disease.

Body parts of persons with albinism are used for witchcraft purposes. There is this belief in certain countries that body parts have magical powers and if used in potions produced by witch doctors it will bring wealth and power, This is Africa reported.

According to the U.N. Human Rights Office, five new attacks against people with albinism occurred over an 11-day period in Tanzania last month. Totaling the number of attacks since 2000 to 151, including 74 murders.

Medline Plus defines Albinism as "a defect of melanin production that results in little or no color (pigment) in the skin, hair, and eyes."

While it is not very common in most parts of the world, affecting one in 20,000 people, it is quite common in sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, one in 1,400 people are born with this condition.

United Nation's human rights official Alicia Loudono expresses concerns about the plight of these children and how they are segregated in Tarzania. They have been labeled as ghosts, as devils, as people who bring bad luck, death or sickness.

“The worst form of discrimination is the ritual attacks. These are rooted in superstition.. Body parts of persons with albinism are used for witchcraft purposes. There is this belief in certain countries that body parts have magical powers and if used in potions produced by witch doctors it will bring wealth and power,” said Loudono.

As a result, people with albinism are mutilated for their body parts. Loudono says a limb can fetch thousands of dollars on the black market. She says a person who has had an arm or a leg cut off is usually left unattended and bleeds to death. While the victims who survive usually receive no communal support or legal assistance.

Non-governmental organizations have documented 328 attacks in 24 different countries since 2000. They include Burundi, Ivory Coast and Swaziland. Most attacks occur in rural areas.

Early in 2013, there was a spike in the number of these ritual attacks. Loudono says on her trip to Tanzania, everyone linked the recent attacks to the presidential election set for October 2015.

“There is this common knowledge of people with albinism, that attacks increase when there is [an] election. One of the reasons they say is that there are some politicians that use witchcraft for gaining power. This is part of their belief… for winning elections, for being more rich, etc,” she added.

While in Tanzania, Loudono visited several centers for children with special needs where children with albinism are cared for. She says these centers were originally intended as temporary, but have now become a long-term solution.

She says the conditions in which these children are kept are appalling. They are overcrowded and unhygienic, and the children are subject to corporal punishment, threats and sexual abuse.

The worst aspect of these centers, she says, is that these children lose all contact with their families.

Instead of segregating these children from their communities, she says, the Tanzanian authorities should make every effort to integrate them back into their homes and societies.

Source: This is Africa


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