Zimbabwe has crowned its first “Miss Albino” in a pageant that was aimed at entertaining patrons but whiles at it fighting prejudice and violence against albinos.
At the end of the event held in the capital Harare, 21-year-old Sithembiso Mutukura emerged winner beating 12 other contestants to claim the crown — an achievement she said she hopes will inspire others living with the rare disorder.
During the event late last week, the contestants had to respond to questions on stage and model a range of gowns and traditional African robes. Mutukura was awarded $85 in prize money after being named the winner.
And then you have children mocking you in the streets and men jeering at you as you walk, but then I believe now that's about to change.
First “Miss albino” in Zimbabwe ❤️ In many African countries albinos are hunted, mutilated and killed because of a superstition. Now a beauty contest sets an example. #WomenTalkOnline pic.twitter.com/uhHgcvQ98o— DW – WomenTalk (@dw_WomenTalk) March 17, 2018
The pageant aims to instill confidence in girls living with albinism in Zimbabwe as well as reduce the stigma and to raise awareness. In many African countries, people with albinism routinely face discrimination and persecution because of the way they look.
If someone has a dream to become a beauty queen, being an albino should not be a limitation. In a platform like this, they should be celebrated for who God created them to be,” a patron of the event Pauline Gundidza said.
Monalissa Manyati who came second shared experiences of how she face problems over her condition whiles growing up. She said people ridiculously thought they could turn white overnight if they associated with albinos.
“And then you have children mocking you in the streets and men jeering at you as you walk, but then I believe now that’s about to change,” she added.
The genetic disorder prevents skin cells from producing melanin , resulting in abnormal pigmentation of the skin, hair, and eyes. People with the condition also suffer from vision problems and are susceptible to skin cancer.
The rate of albinism in Africa is much higher than in other parts of the world. Communities in some countries believe albinism can bring magical powers, wealth and good fortune — a superstition that has led to attackers kidnapping and murdering albinos to sell their body parts to witch doctors on the black market.