Albinism is a rare congenital disorder resulting in the loss of melanin, the pigment giving color to you hair, skin and eyes. It is a recessive genetic disorder, meaning both of the individual’s parents must be carriers of the gene for their child to have the condition. It is important when learning about Albinism to understand that genetic disorders are not contagious, and like many other genetic traits the affected individual had no say in the outcome (You can’t will yourself to become taller).
Unlike being a below average height, Albinism is accompanied by some serious health concerns. Lacking melanin causes extreme sensitivity to the sun and bright light. As a result, people with Albinism are at high risk for developing skin cancer, and the vast majority are visually impaired. Currently, there is no cure for Albinism.
In a 2014 report, the United Nation highlighted 3 key areas of focus when dealing with the situation of persons with Albinism:
- Displacement from insecurityp
- Discrimination arising from the lack of:
– Health Education
– Protective Clothing
– Optician Services
– Assistance in participating in mainstream society
As of July 2014, the UN has reported over 300 attacks against people with Albinism. These attacks range over 24 different countries, primarily in Africa, and a variety of motives, including the use of body parts in religious rituals.
“in some communities, erroneous beliefs and myths, heavily influenced by superstition, put the security and lives of persons with albinism at constant risk. These beliefs and myths are centuries old and are present in cultural attitudes and practices around the world.” – Preliminary Study on the Situation of Human Rights of Persons with Albinism
Additionally centers for peoples with Albinism have reported over crowding, poor hygiene conditions, and very limited human and financial resources.
For those with Albinism, if they survive infanticide (The killing of a child within 1 year from birth) they will no doubt go on to face an extremely difficult life. They live with not only the constant fear of being attacked but also heavy sense of hopelessness. Because of their vision impairment, persons with albinism rarely have the accommodations they need for a suitable education. Without education, they cannot get a job, and without a job they cannot provide for themselves food, shelter, or basic security. Without these basic necessities many die of skin cancer and related illnesses.
But Albinism isn’t just an Africa problem. Discrimination of peoples with Albinisms is very much a global phenomenon and the misconception and misunderstanding surrounding Albinism is seen within the media and pop-culture. The correlation between Albinism and poverty is frightening and truly sad.
Things to Think About
We have given you a super brief background about the situation concerning peoples with Albinism
- How else are people with Albinism affect and treated around the world
- Is there treatment fair? How is their treatment unfair?
- How can we better advocate for this minority group?
- How do we assist victims?
- How do we ensure their basic human rights?
This brief as been adapted from the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee’s, Preliminary Study on the Situation of Human Rights of Persons with Albinism.