By Ireen Kayira, MANA
Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) has said attacks on persons with albinism are rampant when the country is heading towards elections as evidenced by last year’s polls and as such there was need to strengthen their protection and security
APAM President, Ian Simbota said this in Mzimba on Sunday when the association conducted awareness campaign at Jenda Trading Centre in the district to the business community and churches.
The association also paid a visit to a woman with albinism, Tafwauli Ngoma, who was attacked in the district last month.
Simbota said the sensitization campaign was important to make the communities are aware of the trends of attacks towards the fresh presidential polls scheduled for July 2 so that persons with albinism could be protected.
“As we are heading towards election, there are some politicians who believe that they can use body tissues of persons with albinism to win elections, which is just an evil way of thinking.”
He said because of such kinds of beliefs, persons with albinism are being murdered, losing their body parts giving an example of a case in Mzimba where an old woman’s toes were chopped off because of the same beliefs.
He added that this was directly connected to the United Nations report which says that persons with albinism face an increase in attacks especially in the times when countries are having elections.
“We are going to vote again and Zambia is also having elections and in the case of Mama Tafwauli Ngoma, the suspects were arrested along the Malawi-Zambia border that was directly connected to the same.
“Additionally her case happened after the court ruled that we will have fresh elections which only show the vulnerability of persons with albinism during this period,” he said.
He called upon government and other institutions to come in quickly in intensifying the protection of persons with albinism as early as possible during this period.
Simbota said the awareness that they conducted would go in other districts as well across the country.
Deputy Vestry chairperson for Jenda Church of Central African Presbyterian (CCAP), Harry Phiri said the information came at the right time and he believes it will spread in all communities.
“Persons with albinism here in rural areas face a lot challenges, so with this campaign things might change,” he said.
He appealed to Malawians to refrain from beliefs that put persons with albinism at risk of being attacked because they are just like anyone else.
“They have the right to live just like everyone else and attacking them for their body parts is barbaric and as such everyone should take part in protecting them in our communities,” he said.
Phiri cited that these acts are still happening because punishments given to the offenders are not stiff enough and appealed to the courts that the issue of punishments should be put into consideration.