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Pale and Persecuted: Albinos Hunted, Terrorized in Tanzania

Living in sub-Saharan Africa isn't an easy existence for anyone — but for albino people living in one of Earth’s hottest areas has intense challenges. Their total lack of pigmentation, which affects 1 in 3,000, is excruciating under the glaring African sun — they are predisposed to severe skin burns and often die of skin cancer before the age of 30.

Though lately, the weather is the least of their problems. Tanzanian officials claim that witch doctors are promoting the sale of albino skin, bones and hair as ingredients in spells to create prosperity. In the past year, 19 albinos including children have been killed or mutilated. Police are creating lists of albinos throughout their nation in an effort to better protect them including escorts for albino children to get to and from school. I absorb a lot of news, but this story is almost unimaginably horrific. To see how,

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One of the families devastated by this phenomenon was eating when four men entered their home and cut off the legs of their albino daughter and simply left with her amputated stumps. She later died.

The Commissioner said of the witch doctor’s influence into the persecution of the albino people:

These witch doctors have many strange beliefs. There was a rumor not so long ago that if you use a bald head when fishing, you’ll get rich. There was another one that said if you spread blood on the ground in a mine, you’ll find gold. These rumors come and go. The problem is, the people who follow witch doctors don’t question them.

Police say the rural areas are the most susceptible to rumors and superstitions, as they tend to be uneducated. This wave of albino killings surprised the police who have no idea why it seemed to begin so suddenly but suspect either a wave of imported Nigerian movies centering on the theme of witchcraft or rising food prices — necessitating the spells for wealth — could be the cause.

Tanzanian Albino Society, a nonprofit advocacy group that operates on less than $15,000 a year, has become increasingly vital to this population in crisis.

— Additional reporting by Zoe Stagg

Image Source: Getty
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Flor2672082 Flor2672082 3 years
they should kill the witch doctors!!!  stupid......I don't mean Kill but maybe torture them.... or maybe teach them that if an albino person spits on them they will change into an albino person or maybe they will have all the riches in the world!!! yeah maybe that, since you cant teach who is not ready to listen.. got to go to the root of the problem.
Frank-y-Ava Frank-y-Ava 7 years
There was an albino girl in my middle school, and i don't mean to be mean, but she scared me. There isn't enough of them so people are either scared of them or think there these special little creatures. There is a lot of scary superstitions in uneducated countries, they need schooling that's they only way to fix this!
MindayH MindayH 7 years
What is also really sad about this, is that there are probably people who believe that the gov't involvement is interfering with religious/spiritual beliefs - like if it was happening in the US
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
Unfortunately many cultures have a dark history based on superstition. The Salome witch trials were just one of our lunatic moments in time.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 7 years
Whoa, how can this happen - and how could anyone really BELIEVE this? It's crazy!
yadiet yadiet 7 years
THIS IS INSANE!! I HAVE NO WORDS.
raciccarone raciccarone 7 years
Ohhh. I thought it was midgets.
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 7 years
So sad and so revolting.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 7 years
I don't know why I'm still shocked and surprised by the superstitions uneducated masses have. Sex with a virgin with cure your AIDS, albino skins increase prosperity... where do they come up with this stuff?
UnDave35 UnDave35 7 years
The problem is they don't keep a history, so they don't understand. They cling to their superstitions and don't bother to try to understand anything beyond themsleves. It's very sad.
i-heart-monster i-heart-monster 7 years
This story makes me feel like vomiting. I keep asking, "Haven't these people learned anything from history" in my head, and then keep realizing (over and over) that no, they haven't - they know nothing about world history whatsoever. How incredibly sad!
simplyfab87 simplyfab87 7 years
This is horrible. I just don't understand how people can do this.
em1282 em1282 7 years
Wow. I'm speechless. Citizen, you're so right...
CitizenSugar CitizenSugar 7 years
I know Roarman. It's not an easy story, but it's incredible to me just how much is going on in the world that we don't hear about. Just when you think the world has shrunk to this globalized rock in the sky, you read a story like this and realize just how big the world is, and how many different challenges people face.
Roarman Roarman 7 years
WTF?!
brittanyk brittanyk 7 years
My boyfriend's sister was telling me about this last night, actually. I have never heard of it before. It boggles my mind that people believe things like albino body parts will help with prosperity, but I guess, it's just a cultural difference. Plus, like the article mentioned many of these people are uneducated. Either way, it's sad.
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