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Oct 2012

The Genocide of Individuals With Albinism in Africa

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Dermatology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina (Dr Ladizinski), Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota (Dr Cruz-Inigo), and University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (Dr Sethi).

Arch Dermatol. 2012;148(10):1151. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2012.2515

In addition to their everyday struggle with skin cancer, stigma, discrimination, and the resultant isolation associated with such ordeals, individuals with albinism in Africa are also plagued by another, more immediately pressing plight—bounty hunters. Among the many myths and misconceptions surrounding albinism (eg, albinism is contagious, the mother of a child with albinism was impregnated by a white man, intercourse with a woman with albinism will cure human immunodeficiency virus), a notion exists that body parts of people with albinism possess magical powers and medicinal properties.1 Consequently, during the past decade, more than 100 individuals with albinism have been murdered in Burundi, Tanzania, and other African countries, as their body parts are harvested and sold by witch doctors for thousands of dollars in underground markets.1 Furthermore, graves of individuals with albinism must often be sealed with cement and buried indoors so that they may be guarded against grave robbers hunting for body parts.

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