Albinism is a rare, non-contagious,
genetically inherited condition present at
birth characterized by a lack of
pigmentation (melanin) in the hair, skin and
eyes. Almost all people with albinism are
visually impaired and are at risk of
developing skin cancer. Albinism occurs
regardless of ethnicity or gender. Both
parents must carry the gene for it to be
passed on, even if neither have albinism
themselves. It is important to note that a
child with albinism received the defective
information from both parents and that it is
common for parents with normal skin
colour to have a child with albinism.

It is estimated that there are about 25,000
PWA in Zambia. In Africa it is estimated that
1 in every 5,000 to 15,000 people have
albinism with some populations having
estimates as high as 1 in 1,000.

Hundreds of attacks including murder,
mutilations, grave robberies, sexual
violence, kidnapping and trafficking of
persons and body parts have been reported
across Africa. PWA are subjected to namecalling and exclusion, which impacts
negatively on their rights to equality,
dignity and access to equal opportunities.
This stigma is compounded by a lack
appropriate services, unsupportive
legislation, inaccessible environments,
poverty and social exclusion. In most
communities the woman is wrongly blamed
for being the cause of the albinism, a
misconception that leaves mothers
ostracised and abused.

Many women and children with albinism face
a heightened risk of domestic and sexual
violence. Many PWA are trapped in poverty
as they face multiple barriers to accessing an
education, securing a livelihood and fully
participating in society.

In response to the widespread
disappearances and killing of people with
albinism in Tanzania, Burundi and other East
and Central African countries, the United
Nations officially declared PWA “persons
with disabilities” in 2008.

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