Amnesty International is calling for ritual murders of people with albinism to come to an end after reports indicated sharp increase in violence against the vulnerable group.
The rights group says, attacks against people with albinism increased sharply and gangs are seeking body parts to sell for use in witchcraft.
In a report released on Tuesday titled “We Are Not Animals to be Hunted or Sold: Violence and Discrimination Against People with Albinism in Malawi”, the global human rights group expressed its concern that “the unprecedented wave of brutal attacks against people with albinism has created a climate of terror for this vulnerable group and their families” in the southern African nation.
Amnesty was outraged when a two-year-old Whitney was abducted from her bed while she was sleeping in April. Baby Whitney’s skull, teeth and clothes were later discovered in a neighbouring village. Her brutal murder follows that of 9-year-old Harry, snatched from his home in February and found beheaded soon after.
According to media reports, in the past 19 months, authorities in Malawi have recorded the murders of 18 albinos and abduction of five others although Amnesty fears the real number is likely to be higher as many attacks in secretive rituals in rural areas are never reported.
The report further claimed that a few perpetrators who have been arrested in the past have either been acquitted or given lighter sentences.
There is no systematic documentation of crimes against people with albinism in Malawi, where people with albinism number around 10,000 out of a population of around 16.5 million.
Albinism is a rare,non-contagious, genetic condition present at birth that results in absence of pigmentation in the eyes, skin and hair. It is estimated that between 7000-10000 people live with albinism in Malawi.