Photos by- Rick Guidotti for Positive Exposure (photoexposure.org)
Known locally as the ‘walking dead,’ people with albinism are regarded with suspicion in Tanzania. Occult beliefs in the magical properties of albino body parts – used by witchdoctors for rituals thought to bring wealth and prosperity – have given rise to a series of albino murders.
The rapidly growing trade in albino body parts, which also targets children, is lucrative. Traders can sell albino limbs on the black market for $500 to $2000. It is estimated that this trade resulted in 60-70 murders in Tanzania in 2009.
Although the Tanzanian government has pledged to crack down on the gruesome industry, it admits that action has been slow because most of the attacks happen in rural areas where police forces are understaffed. As well, failure of the court system has meant that dozens of accused people have not been tried for the murders.
Peter Ash is the founder of the Canadian NGO “Under The Same Sun,” which provides advocacy and support for albino people in Tanzania. He says that of 57 reported murders, and 6 attacks in which victims lost limbs, in the last two years, there were convictions in only 2 cases. In neighbouring Burundi there were convictions in 12 of 14 cases. Government officials have blamed the slow progress on lack of funds, but Ash is not convinced.
“We are unaware of other capital murder cases that have been stopped due to lack of funds, we’ve never heard of that happening before,” he said. “We believe that it is due more to a lack of political will.” Continue Reading