People with Albinism face numerous challenges in the society, they are often discriminated upon leading to many of them losing self-confidence and fail to understand who they are.
Myths and traditional views have dominated Albinism discourse, this has made many people believe that what they hear. In some parts of Africa like Mozambique albinos are still hunted and murdered for ritual, luck purposes. It is believed that parts of the dead body have prediction and supernatural power. These views are still stumbling blocks towards a stable and solid dimension of understanding Albinism and it calls for more awareness to change the society’s perspectives on albinism.
Speaking during a virtual commemorations of World Albinism Day on National Disability Talk one of the facilitators Simbarashe Mhlanga stated that there is still misunderstanding of Albinism in Zimbabwe with people basing on myths and traditional views which are invalid.
“Albinism remains a serious misunderstanding. It is misunderstood by many, both from a scientific perspective and sociological perspective. It is a kind of disability in modern society. However, how people understand Albinism, how they tolerate, and of course the issues of accountability remains long term goals to achieve
“People still lack that understanding what causes Albinism. The myth and traditional views are still binding towards a proper understanding. The issues of the skin color still remain the yardstick of discrimination, maginalisation and rampant exclusion. Of course albinos rights are violated in modern society. Minimum tolerance is exercised in most societies. Albinos are still misfits, outcasts in most societies.
“However, a few have understood through appreciated efforts by many NGOs that Albinism is more of a scientific and genetic problem. Some managed to deal away with those myths and traditional views. It is also important to note that these views are still common but not as rampant as some years ago,” said Mhlanga.
Precious Chakuma a University of Zimbabwe Social Work student who is also a professional model stated that there is need for the society to do away with albinism myths that have been circulating for a while.
“Albinism is a genetic condition that reduces the amount of melanin pigment, or melanin production which results in the birth of a child with albinism. The reduced amount often causes pale skin, eye color and hair. It is not a disease but a disorder in the production of genes, therefore there is no cure, however, the skin can be protected and eyes can be treated. Albinism is not caused by bad luck, disability or anything else you can think of, it’s biological that is why we see some parents who do not have albinism can give birth to a child with albinism.
“Albinism is not contagious, I have seen people who think that associating with a person living with albinism will make them give birth to a child with albinism that is not it. It is wrong and unacceptable to think that having sex with a person with albinism can cure disease e.g AIDS. It only results in rape and sexual exploitation. A person with albinism can give birth to a child without, there is 1/5 chances if the partner do not have albinism or do not carry the albinism genes in their blood,” she said.
Mhlanga also stated that more effort is needed to deal with negative issues surrounding albinism in Zimbabwe.
“Even at state or national level state institutions have done little or less than we expect to deal with the issues surrounding Albinism. This does not mean people with Albinism are beggars from the state but the state has to be accountable on its responsibilities especially on equality on employment opportunities, respecting rights for the disabled. To deal away with notions disability means inability. This myopic understanding are still common in modern society the today society. Physical barriers are still common and maintained to people with Albinism today. There is need to deal with those challenges as a community let’s fight for those barriers
“Violation of rights for people with Albinism is common in the society we live in today. There is limited chance on employed opportunity, Sometimes skin color is used as the criterion for qualifications and at times their decisions are neglected. People with Albinism are regarded as outcast, especially during marriage there is battle if an albino tries to marry a non-albino, usually the relatives for the wives have limited understanding. Such social challenges are rampant. Most of the people with
Albinism are poor simply they are denied support and backup. There are a lot brilliant individuals but they are denied the ladder to expose their wisdom,” he said.
World Albinism Day is important for Albinos because it, “It gives belonging and recognition that we are known and remembered. It brings joy, love and care. It generates and guarantees support and international attention to the rest of the world that Albinism is normal. It measures tolerance at global level. It gives the Albinism society unity and support. It connects love, knowledge and brings family-hood. We can share life experiences, one may get to know each other. It guarantees the concept of togetherness. It also measures success and milestone by people with Albinism. This day measures what have been done, it points to efforts and key achievements and visionary plans,” said Mhlanga.