New Bill outlawing discrimination against albinism in offing

26Jan 2017
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
New Bill outlawing discrimination against albinism in offing

THE East African Community’s Protection of People with Albinism Bill, 2016, is in the offing with the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) granting the mover, Shyrose Bhanji, leave to introduce the Bill.

Shyrose Bhanji

The object of the Bill is to prohibit the discrimination against people suffering with albinism and to ensure affirmative action in their favour.

It also stipulates the sanctions against those who indulge in suffocating the rights of persons with albinism. The Bill hopes to put in place sanctions including conviction of those who discriminate against albinos.

The object of the Act is to promote dignity and equal opportunities for persons with albinism. The Bill seeks to eliminate all forms of discrimination of persons with albinism on grounds of their disability.

“There are people with albinism who are killed in the face of negative beliefs and witchcraft. We live in a modern society and such beliefs have no place in the world today. Such killings should be stopped and are criminal,” Bhanji said.

“We must also put in place or propagate for affirmative action on behalf of those with albinism,” she added.

Rising in support of the Motion were Mike Sebalu, Hon Maryam Ussi Yahya, Dr James Ndahiro, Patricia Hajabakiga and AbuBakr Ogle. Other Members were Abubakar Zein, Valerie Nyirahabineza and Taslima Twaha.

Persecution of people with albinism (PWA) is based on the belief that certain body parts of albinistic people can transmit magical powers. Such superstition is present especially in some parts of the African Great Lakes region and has been promulgated and exploited by witch doctors and others who use such body parts as ingredients in rituals, concoctions and potions with the claim that their magic can bring prosperity to the user (muti or medicine murder).

As a result, people with albinism have been persecuted, killed and dismembered, and graves of albinos dug up and desecrated. At the same time, people with albinism have also been ostracised and even killed for exactly the opposite reason, because they are presumed to be cursed and bring bad luck. The persecutions of people with albinism take place mostly in sub-Saharan African communities, especially among East Africans.

Albinism is a genetically inherited condition which is very rare and, worldwide, affects approximately one in twenty thousand people. Although rare in the western world, albinism is quite common in sub-Saharan Africa, likely as a result of consanguinity.

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