In African countries, people with albinism are believed to be ghosts who can vanish at any time, and that their body parts can heal the terminally ill. Albinism is a condition in which a newborn comes out of its mother’s womb with a pale color and blond hair, and this results from a lack of body pigment. They are hunted down, killed and rejected by society.
To this end, the African Union has issued new guidelines related to combating witchcraft and sorcery and the resulting practices that contradict human rights.
A study published last month revealed that when people with albinism were given the opportunity to tell their stories and show their common humanity, attitudes towards them changed. One of the community activists said that through communication with these people, people discovered that the albino is a “normal person who will not fade away like a ghost.
This is confirmed by the story of 14-year-old Goldalen, who scored the highest score in Kenya’s national primary school exams and made front-page news in the East African country. Her father Harrison Tanga, a biology teacher, recounts that during her birth he heard nurses whispering among themselves when he passed by them, and when he saw his wife Matilda holding a pale baby girl with blond hair, he realized that she had albinism. “My wife had a strange expression on her face, a mixture of fear and maybe something else,” he says. But as a biology teacher, he wasn’t bothered, unlike many Kenyans who believe skin pigmentation disorders are a “curse” and name sufferers. This case is the phrase «stealth». Tanga went to his wife’s bed and took the newborn in his arms and said that it was his golden child, and he immediately named her “Goldalin”.
principles of justice
The African Union Principles outline how member states should deal with societal harms arising from witchcraft. Although it is not enforceable, it is an acknowledgment that the problem, which African societies have long dealt with in silence, is not compatible with the common principles of justice and equality in Africa.
The AU Guidelines include a wide range of remedies aimed at reinforcing protocols already adopted by African states to promote gender equality, protect children, defend human rights, and root out witchcraft practices. Eight countries have laws criminalizing the stigmatization of children or persons with albinism as bewitched. Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, has achieved a modest reduction in violence by promoting civic awareness and more equal access to higher education.
“Although accusations of witchcraft and witch-hunts are against the law in many African countries, these legal provisions are rarely enforced,” wrote Nigerien human rights activist Leo Igwe. He notes that the new guidelines represent an important step towards “weakening the hold of the witch and ritual beliefs in the minds of Africans”.
Thousands of victims
The United Nations has recorded about 20,000 victims of violence related to witchcraft fears or practices in 60 countries around the world in the past decade, and this violence takes many forms in Africa, but it targets children, women, the elderly and people with albinism, where those who are believed to be enchanted are rejected and deprived of their rights. Inheritance, mutilation, rape, and ritual murder. Such beliefs are often promoted during crises as an explanation for bad luck.
A study by the American University published last November revealed that “beliefs in witchcraft are more prevalent in countries with weak institutions and a lower quality of governance.” Witchcraft practices proliferate when public health services or education and employment opportunities are limited.
Community-led projects have shown that breaking the fear of witchcraft requires a change of perspective. In Ghana, where women accused of witchcraft are held in remote “witch camps,” a group of civil society organizations has found that promoting ownership and entrepreneurship in local communities has helped build local philanthropic support for outcast women, and such activities have re-established community trust in these women. .
• A study published last month revealed that when people with albinism were given the opportunity to tell their stories and show their common humanity, attitudes towards them changed. Although accusations of witchcraft and witch-hunts are against the law in many African countries, these legal provisions are rarely enforced.
• The United Nations has recorded nearly 20,000 victims of violence related to witchcraft fears or practices in 60 countries around the world over the past decade.