Malawi Albinos Hunted And Killed For Body Parts

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Malawi has seen a surge in the abductions and killings of albino people, who are being targeted for their body parts, which are sold on the black market to witch doctors who claim they bring wealth and good luck.

Edna Cedrick, the mother of albino twins in the town of Lilongwe in the southern African country, woke up in the middle of night to the sound of intruders in her home. They managed to snatch one of twin boys from her, hacking at her with a machete when she would not let go. When relatives got to her, the boy was gone. She was later called in to identify her son’s decapitated body, reports CBS News.

At least 18 people with albinism have been killed in Malawi since November 2014, and five more have been reported missing, a report from Amnesty International states.

The numbers are likely to be higher, because rural killings are never reported.

Malawi police have also documented cases where the bodies of albino people have been illegally dug up. Authorities say this increase in violence comes in the wake of neighboring Tanzania imposing strict measures against the trade in January 2015.

Fletcher Masina, a 38-year-old father of four who had albinism, was attacked the same day Cedrick was interviewed. His body was recovered, but the limbs were missing. 31-year-old Razik Jaffalie, who has an albino son, has stopped working as a bicycle taxi operator to protect his son from this threat. “My life has come to a standstill,” he told the Associated Press. “Anyone who will come to try to snatch my child from me will have to kill me first.”

“The macabre trade is also fueled by a belief that bones of people with albinism contain gold,” Amnesty International says, adding that there is also a prevailing belief that having sex with an albino person can cure HIV. This has led to rampant discrimination against people with albinism, including from family members.

Malawian activists have taken to the streets in protest, marching to parliament to petition for stricter penalties on people who attack and kill albinos. Malawi president Peter Mutharika has since put together a committee that will look into these alarming activities, which he called “disgusting.”

That anybody could think that you can be rich by using bones or something like that because some witch doctors have said so…that’s stupidity

Mutharika said at a political rally.

Police officials admit that there is a lack of security that has caused people with albinism and their parents to live in fear. “In rural areas where these attacks are rampant, we do not have enough police officers,” Isaac Maluwa of the Machinga district police said.

Mina Godfrey, a 13-year-old girl with albinism, placed first in her latest school exams and has hopes of becoming a lawyer. She narrowly escaped death when she was abducted by her uncle.

Godfrey narrates, “I was deep in sleep when next thing I realized was that I was outside the house, naked, while heavy rains pouring down on me. When I screamed, my uncle grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and I choked.” When she tried to escape, she was tied to a bicycle. “But when we went to the next stop, they untied me to negotiate with the buyer and started discussing before moving away a little bit, giving me an opportunity to run away again,” she said. She hid out in a nearby house, where the owner found her the next morning.

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s director for southern Africa, declares that, “The time has come for the government of Malawi to stop burying its head in the sand and pretending that this problem will just go away.”

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