This is a rather sad story: people have killed albinos in Tanzania because they believe albinos are the result of a curse, and that their bodies have magical properties. In the past, I’ve heard of magical thinking being the basis for killing all kinds of wild animals (gorillas, rhinos, and other endangered animals) based on a belief that their body parts can be used in magical potions, but never human beings. How frightening it must be for albinos.
[BBC] Tanzania’s Albino Society has accused the government of turning a blind eye to the killing of albinos, after four deaths in the past three months.
An albino spokesman said there was a belief that the condition was the result of a curse put on the family.
Some witch-doctors also say they can use albino body parts in a potion to make people rich.
A teacher in the northern town of Arusha has been arrested for killing his own child, who was albino.
According to a more recent story (April 2008), the government has begun doing a crackdown on attacks against Albinos, but the numbers aren’t comforting:
Twenty people with albinism have been murdered in the past year in Tanzania, where there is a widespread belief that the condition is the result of a curse.
Our correspondent says that in some parts of the country, people think albinos bring bad luck to the whole community.
While there have not yet been any prosecutions regarding the recent spate of murders, 172 were last month arrested in connection to the cases – 71 of whom said they had been told by witch doctors to bring them albino body parts.
And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, in Zimbabwe, albinos have other problems fueled by superstition – the threat of rape by HIV-infected men:
But now, besides being treated like lepers, albino women have increasingly been the victims of rape – a practice fuelled by myths that if an HIV infected man sleeps with an albino woman, he will be cured.