BY VARAIDZO MUDEWAIRI
PEOPLE with albinism have dispelled myths that their bodies can be used to cure diseases like HIV and Aids, a misconception that has exposed them to abuse.
Noble Hands Trust Zimbabwe executive director Willard Musiyarira told NewsDay that at the height of the HIV and Aids pandemic, misconceptions were rife that sleeping with a woman with albinism could cure the virus.
Albinism is a natural phenomenon whereby one is born without melanin as a result of a recessive gene existing in both parents.
“Culturally, in some areas it is believed that if one sleeps with a person with albinism they would be cured of diseases, and at the height of HIV and Aids pandemic, both women and men, including children continued to be subjected to these abuses at family and community levels. This affects the victim both psychologically and physically as they are exposed to diseases and their self-esteem is lowered,” Musiyarira said.
“It is not true that if you have sex with a person with albinism you would be cured of diseases or have good luck or spiritually get cleansed, and in most cases these issues are swept under the carpet.”
He said other myths observed in some communities include that if one uses the path which a person with albinism used, they should touch a button on their clothes to avoid giving birth to a child with albinism.
“Some businesspeople also believe that if a person with albinism buys from their shop it signals luck. Some of these myths have resulted in albinos being hunted down like animals in countries such as Malawi, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their bodies are then mutilated to make charms,” he said.
Musiyarira urged Zimbabweans to change the narrative by promoting the well-being of people with albinism and educating communities to desist from discriminating, abusing and shunning people with albinism.
Albinism rights activist Marvellous Tshuma said: “Many women with albinism as a result have been raped and continue to be raped. Sleeping with a woman with albinism does not cure HIV and Aids.”
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