from MAVHUTO BANDA in Lilongwe, Malawi
LILONGWE, (CAJ News) – DESPITE strides made by the government to tackle the violations, people with albinism in Malawi live with a constant threat to their life as well as physical security and safety, because they are born with different skin colour.
These members of the public continue to endure discrimination and challenges that seriously hinder them from enjoying human rights.
Among these liberties include the right to education, health, employment as well as freedom of association.
While the violation of the rights of people with albinism is a global crisis, Malawi has a reputation as one of the countries most hostile to individuals living with the condition.
Despite enduring gory attacks fuelled by misbeliefs about their condition, Malawians with albinism have remained resolute in demanding their rights.
It is thus apt the recent International Albinism Awareness Day was commemorated under the theme, “Still Standing Strong.”
Malawi joined the global community in commemorating the day designated by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2014 to spread awareness about albinism worldwide.
It is marked annually on June 13.
“The UN stands strong in solidarity with persons with albinism in Malawi and around the world,” Maria Jose Torres, the UN Resident Coordinator for Malawi, assured.
She said the global organisation was ready to work closely with the government, other development partners and civil society organisations to promptly implement the National Action Plan on Persons with Albinism.
The government has prepared and adopted the plan, one of efforts authorities have endorsed in protecting people with the condition.
“We look forward to seeing the written commitment in the plan become a reality in a manner that will bring about positive, concrete and lasting change in the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism in Malawi – beginning with the most fundamental rights: to life, and to security of a person,” Torres said.
While the death toll for Malawi could not be independently ascertained, it is estimated that more than 150 people with albinism have been killed in countries such as Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia since 2014.
They were killed mainly for their body parts.
Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa, urged governments across Southern Africa to pay special attention to persons with albinism who are being left further behind in the wake of lockdown measures to curb the coronavirus.
In 2016, Malawi passed the Penal Code Amendment Act and Revised Anatomy Act to tackle the killing of people with albinism.
Some perpetrators of killings have been sentenced to deaths.
According to the 2018 Malawi Population and Housing Census Report, there are 134 000 individuals with albinism in the Southern African country of 18,14 million.
Before the report, it had been underestimated there were 17 000 Malawians with albinism.
The government has pledged to build hundreds of houses for people with albinism through its Decent and Affordable Housing Subsidy Programme.
Government earlier this year distributed personal security alarm devices to enhance their protection.
– CAJ News