What It Takes To Be An Albino

Albinism is a rare, genetically inherited variance present at birth[i]. It is not infectious or contagious. Inside the African societies, people with albinism look distinctly different from others as they do not have black skin[ii].  People with albinism are considered as people with disabilities. They require continuous special skin care, especially in maintaining their white skin. In Tanzania, only 2 percent of them pass the age of 40, and less than 10 percent survives the age of 30 as they die prematurely of skin cancer due to lack of melanin[iii].

Albino.jpg

Albinos are everywhere in Africa, but they are rife in East Africa. Tanzania and Malawi have the heaviest population of people with albinism in the world. In Tanzania alone, there are approximately 170, 000 albinos, making it the country with the highest rate of these masses[iv].

Notwithstanding, there are misconceptions and conjectural myths about Albinism[v]. Most consider the albinos as ghosts. As a consequence, people with albinism are stigmatised. To be an albino means to be an outcast.  They are facing severe persecution such as discrimination, abduction, ritual abuse, mutilation, bullying[vi], and barbaric killing. Perpetrators are, for the most part, close relatives, acquaintances, and neighbours.  Ignorance and lack of educational awareness drive many to speculate that people with albinism have magical abilities. Due to endless bullying or fear of being abducted to ritual killings, some children with albinism are forced to stay away from schools and playgrounds[vii].  Most Albinos murdered were for money-scheme ritual process as there are beliefs that their body parts can usher in money, employment success, and stroke of luck[viii]. In Malawi, even after they have been laid to rest, there have been 39 reported instances of ritual killers exhuming and kidnapping the albinos’ corpses, and some arrested in possession of albinos’ bones[ix]. Some of them have had their limbs cut off for witchcraft rituals. Women and children with albinism are the most vulnerable. The adult females are cited as Machilisto[x], which means ‘cure’ in Malawian. Female albinos are being raped because of the theory that anyone infected with HIV/AIDS who have sex with them will be cured[xi][xii].

Since 2000 to date, 448 assaults on albinos have been reported in 25 African nations[xiii]. Last year, the Tanzanian police cracked down on 32 witch-doctors who were found guilty of killing almost 75 albinos for ritual[xiv]. In 2010, around 10 people were condemned to death for murdering people with albinism[xv].

Nevertheless, the persecution of albinos continues. Many of them, particularly the Malawians and Tanzanians albinos at this moment in time live in perpetual fear of terror. Some lucky ones have succeeded in fleeing their countries to seek asylum elsewhere. Under the Same Sun[xvi], is one of the NGOs helping Tanzania people with albinism.

Sadly, their governments fail to protect them[xvii]. Most shockingly, many high-level African politicians are now being accused and suspected of killing albinos for ritual in order to win their elections[xviii].  Whitney Chilumpha, a toddler with albinism was abducted at night while sleeping with her mother and dismembered[xix]. A few days ago, local residents found a bag containing the torso of a six-year-old albino boy, known as Faztudo Filipe, in the Mudzingandze province of Maputo, Mozambique[xx]. The assailants had gone off with his arms, legs and other parts of his body.

The problem is not just the focus on the failure of the concerned governing bodies to guarantee adequate security for these people. One ought not to forget that this issue has a cultural base. The discourse of superstitious regarding albinism is embedded in the African culture, and the general mentality of the people is well-grounded on the subject. If one cannot get through to the grassroots to convince the people that discrimination of the albino is a criminal offense against humanity; there is virtually little that can be done at the national level. The people’s frame of mind has to shift. Albinos are human beings, and not ghosts. Hence, they deserve the right to life. #StopkillingAlbinos

[i] (de Chazournes, 2014)

[ii] (Lund, et al., 2015)

[iii] (Global Disability Watch , 2016)

[iv] (United Nations, 2009)

[v] (Office Of The High Commissoner Human Rights, s.d.)

[vi] (Lund, et al., 2015)

[vii] (Brune-Lockhart, et al., 2013; 2014)

[viii] (Akbar, 2016)

[ix] (Foreign Affairs Publisher, 2016)

[x] (Moreno, 2016)

[xi] (Amnesty International, 2016)

[xii] (Foreign Affairs Publisher, 2016)

[xiii] (Global Disability Watch , 2016)

[xiv] (Reuters in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, 2015)

[xv] (Brune-Lockhart, et al., 2013; 2014)

[xvi] (Under The Same Sun, s.d.)

[xvii] (Amnesty International, 2016)

[xviii] (Ghanaweb, 2016)

[xix] (Foreign Affairs Publisher, 2016)

[xx] (Allafrica, 2016)

Responding to VAW and Strengthening Access to Justice in Fragile and Transitional States

Event: WILPF’s 100 Anniversary Conference

DATE: 29th April, 2015

LOCATION: World Forum, La Hague, Netherlands

Topic: Responding to VAW and Strengthening Access to Justice in Fragile and Transitional States

Organisations: 

ActionAid Australia

Network of Eritrean Women

Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice

Moderator:

A lady represented Rebecca Johnson, Director — Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy

Speakers: 

1) Brigid Inder, Executive Director — Women’s Initiative for Gender Justice

2) Caroline Angir, Senior Policy and Program Coordinator -Addressing VAW — ActionAid Australia

3) Evelyn—Survivor from Uganda

4) A lady represented Hellen Malinga Apila, National Women’s Rights and HIV/AIDS Coordinator — ActionAid Uganda

5) Khedijah Ali Mohammed-Nur, Founding Member and Coordinator — Network of Eritrean Women

6) A lady represented Olivia Omwenge, Local Right’s Programme Officer and Human Security Focal Person — ActionAid DRC

8) Sarah Ogbay Asfaha, Corordinator — Network of Eritrean Women UK

Ebola and the African Female

 

Ebola is real. HIV is real. Both viruses consist of two things in common; Ebola has no functional cure. HIV has no operative cure. Fortunately, they can be contained.

Similar to HIV, with the outbreak of Ebola, imperativeness becomes a must on creating awareness that Ebola is not one continent’s dilemma. Ebola is not African disease. Ebola is a worldwide virus. It comes with no division of dark or white skin.

HIV’s first case was detected in a Belgian-Congolese man in 1959,[i] and subsequently causes of its spread surfaced but not until the 80s when HIV came fully into the limelight. HIV prevalent in Africa creates a wide gap between those infected and those non-infected. Not only is the affected carrier ostracized, he is stigmatised including his family. As such, the code of concrete silence and secrecy has become the emblem for those infected. No one brings it up. No one wishes to be disgraced or thrown out of his Vector portrait of beautiful woman profilefamily caucus. 

African women are the most infected and stigmatised. According to the World Health Organization (WHO)’s report: about 50% of African women, living in Africa, are HIV positive[ii]. Sadly, many of them are exposed to the virus when they live with infected husbands and sex partners.

 Women are affected by many of the same health conditions as men, but women experience them differently.[iii] Once contaminated by their spouses, their communities overlooked the source and rather confronted the women aggressively accusing them of sexual infidelity and promiscuity. In this aspect, the men that are the premier carriers of the virus are not stigmatised. Nonetheless, women, who are unfortunate to have contracted HIV from these men now victimised.

As predominately patriarchy continent, the place of the African woman is restricted. Patriarchy or traditional Africa?[iv] The idea that women are dependent first on their fathers and then on their spouses… indicates that women are considered jural minors.[v] Those who gain in status are usually engaged in aggressive activities to alter perceptions of others towards them, and as a result, they are likely to experience oppressive anxiety.[vi] Losing domination makes it harder for the African man who has been raised to assume this leadership role. Where his mind is conditioned to see himself superior to the opposite sex, any alteration to that often triggers unexpected adverse reaction. That the African woman is inferior to him in all denomination suited his ego. That ‘thing’ is the name of masculinity: courageous, unbeatable and a bag of pride. 

Irrespective of societal background, women’s right to the enjoyment of the highest standard of health must be secured throughout the whole life cycle in equality with men.[vii]

Fear is the greatest weapon that facilitates the rife of stigmatisation. The sudden Ebola epidemic connotes the commencement of gender disparity in Africa. Women and girls will be faced with no choices to decide concerning their state of health, rights to life and access to medical provisions. Most African women and girls in affected nations contracted Ebola via providing tangible assistance to their family members such as spouses, children, relatives and friends. Notwithstanding, these women are susceptible to face up to opposition. Firstly, her gesture of maternal instinct is such as to stay unconquered in the face of everyone avoiding the next person for fear of contamination. Secondly, the African woman may be accused wrongly of being the probable carrier who has brought in the virus to her entire family. This destructive attitude does more harm and impedes sustainable development both in the urban and rural African communities.

Ebola outbreak demands urgent informative awareness of its reality. This can be achieved through governmental networks, media broadcast, online social media and word of mouth. News of misinformation circulates in countries infected. For instance, in Nigeria, uneducated women are the victims of deceptive preventive measures against Ebola. Some are told to take a hot bath five times a day. Others are also encouraged to eat lots of bitter kola (Garcinia Kola) everyday. So far, if these were the cure against Ebola, we would not have had any death.

There is needed for the United Nations to act swiftly, to look into the vulnerability of the African woman to Ebola and to protect her rights from all forms of stigmatisation, prejudice and violence.

[i] The AIDS Institute, ‘Where did HIV come from’, in The AIDS Institute <http://www.theaidsinstitute.org/education/aids-101/where-did-hiv-come-0> [accessed 20 August 2014]

[ii] World Health Organization, ‘Gender Inequalities and HIV’, in World Health Organization <http://www.who.int/gender/hiv_aids/en/> [accessed 20 August 2014]

[iii] Center for the Study of Human Rights, ‘Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action Fourth World Conference on Women: Chapter IV: Strategic Objectives and Actions : Women and Health’, in Women and Human Rights: The Basic Documents, ed. by Paul J. Martin and Lesley Mary Carson (New York: Center for the Study of Human Rights Columbia University, 1996), p. 169.

[iv] Olufemi Taiwo, ‘Feminism and Africa: Reflections on the Poverty of Theory’, in African Women & Feminism: Reflecting on the Politics of Sisterhood, ed. by Oyèronké Oyewùmi, 1st edn (Asmara: Africa World Press, Inc, 2003), pp. 45-66.

[v] Olufunké Mojubàolu Okome, ‘What Women, Whose Development? A Critical Analysis of Reformist Feminist Evangelism on African Women’, in African Women & Feminism: Relecting on the Politics of Sisterhood, ed. by Oyèronke Oyewùnmi, 1st edn (Asmara: Africa World Press, Inc, 2003), pp. 67-98.

[vi] Jonathan H. Turner and Jan E. Stets, The Sociology of Emotions, 1st edn (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 227.

[vii] Center for the Study of Human Rights, ‘Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action Fourth World Conference on Women: Chapter IV: Strategic Objectives and Actions : Women and Health’, in Women and Human Rights: The Basic Documents, ed. by Paul J. Martin and Lesley Mary Carson (New York: Center for the Study of Human Rights Columbia University, 1996), p. 169.

WHAT DOES A WOMAN DESERVES?

Nearly in all the countries all over the world, the position of the woman is still an issue. It is difficult for many men accepting that a woman has the equal right as her male counterpart.

Apart from this, many men understood that the only form of discipline their women are through beating. Turning a woman into a punching bag within her home, among her family member and in her relationship is the worst crime ever, which must be stopped.

Violence and abuses against the woman are injustice and these must stop.
We keep asking ourselves; for how long do we continue to watch this and accept it going on? Do we just fold our hands and keep quiet without taking action?

The answers from every corner are ‘NO’.

NO to violence, NO to punching the woman, NO to abuses, NO to rape, No to injustice!
Every woman on planet earth deserves the right to liberty. The right to her LIFE and not to DEATH!

Join us in this fight!

HELP THE PUNCHING BAG Team
©2009 All Rights Reserved
http://www.helpthepunchingbag.wordpress.com/

A Dagger Without Pity

In February 2009, it can be shocking to discover how many African female children are being mutilated within a week after their birth, all in the name of tradition.
Nearly all the African countries practise Female Genital Mutilation. For years, there have been hundreds of efforts from several NGOs to stop this crime.

Some of these African states have passed out laws banishing FGM but the question is; has that law been executed? We are made to believe that with this law, there will be no more FGM.
Do you trust this law?
For once, I want to make it clear that in these African Countries, FGM is still in going on. we can spread the awareness to those that are close to us. If we know those who hold on to this practice, we can convince them to put a stop to it.

If we don’t talk, no one will know that FGM is a crime against the RIGHTS of a female-Child. FGM is a cultural-foolishness.
Help Spread the word againt FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION. It is a dagger without pity.

Princess Ayelotan