A petition calling on the government of Malawi to deliver its promise to protect people with albinism has been launched today by Sightsavers and the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM).
The two organisations have chosen International Albinism Awareness Day to urge the government to progress the implementation of its 2018 National Action Plan. In Malawi, people with albinism are at risk of being murdered or abducted due to false beliefs that their body parts can be used for good luck in witchcraft rituals.
Albinism is a rare, genetic condition that causes the skin, eyes, and hair to have little or no melanin.
It is estimated that there are over 134,600 people with albinism living in Malawi, many of whom face deep-seated discrimination. As a result, they are often denied the same opportunities for education, health care and other social services as their peers.
This unequal treatment is fuelled by superstition. In Malawi, some people believe that people with albinism have magic in their bones that could make others rich. Some will pay huge sums for the body parts of people with albinism.
Sightsavers Malawi Country Director, Bright Chiwaula, said: “’Still Standing Strong’ is the theme for this year’s International Albinism Awareness Day. Persons with albinism face huge injustices that prevent them from enjoying their rights as part of society. We are proud to recognise, celebrate and stand in solidarity with our courageous partners in APAM as well as with other persons with albinism around the world.
“The time is now for all Malawians to show enough is enough and to demonstrate the strength of public feeling on this issue.”
APAM’s National Coordinator, Overstone Kondowe, said: “We are human beings too and have an equal right to be included in society and live in safety. The National Action Plan on Persons with Albinism in Malawi is designed to deliver this in all areas of life including education, employment and safety, but policies mean little if they are not delivered. We need to see concrete actions and plans being implemented.”
He added, “Our message is: let us celebrate the lives of those few who have chosen not to remain silent, [who have] risked their lives but are still standing strong in fighting this evil. As Malawians, let us reflect on whether we are ready to stand strong in fighting this vice.”
The petition will close in September 2019. It is part of Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign, which has also launched a global petition calling for the United Nations and its member states to uphold disability rights.
Find out more and sign the petition