By Nation Reporter
WOMEN with albinism across the world are victims of targeted sexual assaults because of a myth that sex with them can cure HIV/AIDS, says United Nations expert Ikponwosa Ero.
She warns in her first report to the UN Human Rights Council that some reports from Africa suggested most people especially women with albinism died between the ages of 30 and 40.
“Women with albinism are reportedly the victims of targeted sexual assaults because of a myth that sex with them can cure HIV/AIDS.
“Mothers are ostracized or discriminated against if they give birth to a child with albinism because it is seen as the result of a curse, a bad omen or of infidelity,” she said.
She also observed that people with albinism were being hunted for witchcraft rituals, their body parts hacked off with machetes, and even having their graves desecrated.
“Dangerous myths feed these attacks on innocent people: many erroneously believe people with albinism are not human beings but are ghosts or subhuman and cannot die but only disappear,” she said.
Ms Ero presented in her report a plan to spearhead the identification of root causes of attacks.
“This will include careful understanding, definition and delineation of witchcraft practice, the form it takes and the effects it has on persons with albinism,” she said.
She said effective measures to end attacks would include plans to fast-track immediate investigation of allegations and prosecution of alleged perpetrators.
She said there was also need to appropriate legal, social, psychological and medical remedy and redress for victims; actions to prevent trafficking in body parts, as well as measures for the safe re-integration of displaced persons with albinism.
“While discrimination based on skin colour is an everyday reality for most persons with albinism, discourse on discrimination based on colour has rarely been applied to albinism.
“There is potential to address albinism under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination because the governing concept is ‘racial discrimination’ which may be based on any of five ‘grounds’: race, colour, descent, national origin and ethnic origin,” she said.
Albinism was a non-contagious condition caused by lack of melanin in the skin, hair and eyes and genetically inherited condition affecting people worldwide.
In some areas it could affect as many as 1 in 70 people, although in general 1 in 5,000 to 1 in 20,000 were affected by the condition.