Malawi’s Albinism Community Appeals for Urgent Intervention to Halt Rising Attacks

Malawi's Albinism Community Appeals for Urgent Intervention to Halt Rising Attacks

In an era where we strive for inclusivity and acceptance of all, there is an ongoing horrifying crisis in Malawi that directly contradicts these principles, putting the spotlight on the critical issue of albinism. The Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) has issued an urgent plea, advocating for immediate international intervention to halt the escalating atrocities against individuals with albinism within the nation.

As recently as June, an unidentified group executed a macabre act, violating a grave in Blantyre, a southern city in Malawi. They proceeded to exhume the body and dismember it, removing the arms and legs. Such chilling incidents are driving the already fearful community deeper into the throes of anxiety, as stated by the advocates.

According to Young Mahamba, the president of APAM, this incident is the seventh of its kind in the year alone. Within the same month, two other assaults were carried out against persons with albinism, while there were three separate instances of graves being tampered with. Furthermore, in Phalombe, a district in the southern region of Malawi, a similar gruesome discovery was made in March.

The plight of those with albinism in Malawi is deeply rooted in misguided beliefs that have led to their bodies being commodified. A disturbing trend that started around 2014, the official data reveals that over 170 albinos have been killed or attacked under the false assumption that potions mixed with their body parts lead to prosperity and good luck.

In an attempt to curb this alarming issue, past offenders, including religious leaders, police officers, herbalists, and even family members of the deceased have been identified and arrested. Late June saw the Blantyre high court sentence a Catholic priest, a police officer, and four others to 30 years of rigorous imprisonment for trading in human remains of an individual with albinism.

As part of a proactive initiative, since 2019, the government has been focusing on seven key areas under its national action plan to prevent such assaults. As explained by Pauline Kaude, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, these areas encompass enhancing security, administration of justice, and the empowerment of people with albinism.

However, despite efforts to amplify security at the residences of vulnerable albinos, Mahamba asserts that it needs to be a concerted endeavor. His critique lies in the fact that, despite hearing about projects concerning the welfare of people with albinism, he has not seen tangible progress. Mahamba emphasizes the dire need for international organizations to step in and assist before the situation spirals further out of control.

The need of the hour is for the government to thoroughly review and enhance its protective measures for the albino population and make necessary modifications wherever required. If asked, Mahamba said, each person with albinism in Malawi would echo the fact that they are living in perpetual fear without any semblance of peace.

However, it is not just about the physical actions; the misconceptions also need to be addressed. As per Peter Kalaya, the national spokesperson for the Malawi Police Service, the misguided beliefs about a viable demand for body parts are hindering progress. Despite numerous arrests, none of the suspects have provided evidence of a ‘market’ for these body parts.

Kalaya mentioned that the police are employing various strategies, including a community-based program that empowers locals to identify and report suspicious activities targeting people with albinism. This initiative, he said, has led to numerous arrests of suspected attackers, indicating a ray of hope in this unsettling situation.

The disturbing scenario unfolding in Malawi necessitates the prompt attention of international organizations, governments, and individuals worldwide. Addressing the root of the issue – ignorance and superstition – can foster a safer environment for those with albinism, and break down the walls of fear that currently surround them. Albinism is not a curse, but a genetic condition that deserves understanding and respect.

Leave a reply