Editor's Comment

Let’s protect people living with albinism

GIVEN that albinos face various challenges, it is barbaric that some Zambians have resorted to killing them for their body parts.
Bringing up albino children is tasking for most families because apart from suffering from stigma, they suffer from vision problems and are susceptible to skin cancer.
Simply put, people living with albinism suffer stigma because they are perceived to be less human beings.
It is a pity that some Zambians have joined in the belief that people living with albinism possess supernatural powers.
As a result of this myth, cases of killing albinos are increasing.
Last week, Gift Tembo, 39, an albino of Abraham village in Nyimba district, was found murdered.
Yesterday, a seven-year-old female albino was in Kitwe left for dead after ritualists cut off one of her hands.
There are superstitions in some parts of Africa that albino body parts bring wealth, power or sexual conquest, and that having sex with a person living with albinism cures HIV and AIDS.
As a result, attackers sell albino body parts to witch doctors for a fortune.
These myths are far from being true.
That is why the Albino Foundation of Zambia is genuinely concerned about the continued killing of people living with albinism.
Any loss of a person living with albinism in such circumstances is a source of worry to the foundation and the country at large.
It is a pity that, while Zambia is a Christian nation, there are people who still believe in rituals and will do anything to earn money, even if it means spilling blood.
For a country which espouses Christian values, such barbaric acts should never be entertained. In fact, no religion worth its salt would condone the shedding of innocent blood.
What is happening in Zambia is a breakdown of law and order by people who are being used by foreigners from Malawi and Tanzania where the vice is rife.
But law enforcement officials in Malawi and Tanzania have tightened the grip on the vice, hence spilling over to Zambia.
Albinos, just like other citizens, deserve the right to be protected from violence as is enshrined in the Constitution.
They deserve the freedom of movement and assembly.
Any person interested in the body parts of the albinos is interfering with their fundamental freedoms.
All well-meaning citizens should join persons living with albinism in fighting this heinous act tarnishing the image of the country.
The Zambia Police Service should take interest in this matter before it gets out of hand. Police have a constitutional and moral obligation to ensure that albinos feel protected.
It should not only be the responsibility of family members of the albino community to ensure that their relatives are protected from such attacks.
This is the duty of every citizen – in schools, churches, colleges, universities and communities – by ensuring that people living with albinism are not an endangered species in Zambia.
Citizens should not only show sympathy but demonstrate empathy towards people living with albinism.
Members of Parliament and human rights organisations should lobby for legislation which will protect people with albinism by coming up with stiffer penalties for any person found perpetrating such heinous acts.
Zambia has no room for rituals.
Churches and other religions should speak out against the love of money which is leading people to killing albinos.
There is need for sensitisation of traditional and religious leaders on myths regarding people living with albinism.

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