Villagers save albino girl from the hands of kidnappers in Malawi

Continued abductions of people with albinism in East Africa:

© Flickr/Felipe Fernandes

In Malawi, a group of courageous villagers managed to save a 12-year-old albino girl from the hands of her kidnappers – as reported by the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) in Göttingen on Friday. The girl had been abducted from her parents' house in the village Kalambo (Machinga District) on Wednesday night, while her family was asleep. When her mother noticed the kidnapping, she quickly informed the whole village to find help searching for the girl. When the kidnappers noticed that they were followed, they decided to leave their victim behind.

"Thanks to the great reaction of the entire village, the girl's life was saved," said Ulrich Delius, the STP's Africa-consultant, in Göttingen on Friday. Usually, the unscrupulous traffickers dismember kidnapped albinos in order to sell their limbs – which are falsely said to have magic powers – to the highest bidder on the black market. A "complete set" of limbs from a dismembered person with albinism can be sold for up to 75,000 US dollars.

"People with albinism can't always rely on help and support in their villages," said Delius. Prejudice and discrimination are very common, so there is often no real solidarity.

The recent attack also shows how difficult the situation of the approximately 10,000 people with albinism in Malawi is. "Since there are more measures to curb violence against albinos in neighboring Tanzania, the trafficking tends to shift to Malawi," warned Delius. Thus, there has been a significant increase of violence against people with albinism in Malawi. Two albinos were killed in 2014, while the fate of 15 others who were abducted is still unclear. The "Federation of Disability Organizations in Malawi (FEDOMA)" has been warning about the increasing violence against people with albinism for months – and calls for sharper laws to protect them.

"In view of the recent kidnapping, it is obvious that the countries of Eastern and Central Africa must work together more closely to protect people with albinism," said Delius. It is inacceptable if stricter law merely shift the problem to the neighboring countries. "The struggle for a life in dignity for people with albinism can only be won by a joint initiative!" said Delius.

Header Photo: Flickr/Felipe Fernandes