In Tanzania and other areas of East Africa albino children are being slaughtered, and their body parts body parts are being sold as “lucky charms,” because of widespread superstitious beliefs that the body parts of albino children will bring happiness, wealth, success, and/or cure disease.
The body parts are used by area witchdoctors in the creation of “magical potions.” The witchdoctors claim potions made with albino body parts will bring those who use them luck in love, life and business. The potions are popular, and sell for a lucrative price.
Albino’s are often referred to in Tanzania and other areas of East Africa as ghosts, or zero zero, which in Swahili signifies someone who is less than human.
Witch doctors often lead brutal attacks to use albino body parts in potions they claim bring riches. Albino traffickers sell albino body parts to witchdoctors practicing African traditional medicine (juju). Many believe in the efficacy of potions concocted with albino blood and body parts as a fast and sure path to instant prosperity.
In addition to body parts and magic potions, it is common for businessmen to offer jobs to albino women, hoping to lure them into sexual activity in the belief that it has magical powers to boom business.
Many also believe that sex with an albino cures sexually transmitted infections like HIV.
In response to the tragic situation, the Tanzanian government has established a system of rounding up children with albinism in state-run education centers
The United Nations is now investigating some of the 23 known albino education centers in Tanzania after reports of hundreds of albinos being forcibly removed from their homes.
Human rights officer Alicia Londono notes:
“There is an increased concern that what has been a temporary emergency measure that was welcome at the beginning of the wave of attacks has really become a long-term solution and conditions in the centers are appalling.”
Londono said the policy cuts children off from all contact with their families and allows the overcrowded centers to be used as a “dumping ground,” where children are exposed to the risk of sexual abuse and harsh physical punishment.
People with albinism, also known as albinos, are born with a deficiency of melanin pigmentation. Those with a complete lack of pigmentation have extremely pale skin and hair, and their eyes are typically a light shade of blue.
One out of every 1,400 citizens in Tanzania has albinism. By comparison, the global average is about one in 20,000 people.