Albinos in Tanzania Murdered or Raped as AIDS "Cure"

Under the Same Sun (UTSS), a Canada-based rights group, is warning that albinos in Tanzania are being killed or raped due to the erroneous belief they offer an AIDS cure. Tanzania has some 1.4 million HIV/AIDS cases in its population of 40.7 million.

"There is a belief that if you have relations with a girl with albinism, you will cure AIDS. So there are many girls with albinism who are being raped in the country because of this belief, which is a false belief," said Peter Ash, founder and director of UTSS. "[It is believed] a person with albinism is a curse," he explained. "They are from the devil, they are not human, they do not die, they simply disappear."

More than 63 Tanzanian albinos, children included, are known to have been killed. "We believe there are hundreds and hundreds of killings in Tanzania, but only a small number are being reported to the police," said Ash.

Last week, activists reported the murder of three teenage albino boys from the same family in northern Tanzania, where most of the killings and rapes are occurring.

Albino hunters harvest blood, hair, genitals, and other body parts from their victims for witchdoctors, who concoct potions they say bring luck in love, life, and business.

Ernest Kimaya, who heads the Tanzania Albino society, said social stigma prevents many rape victims from reporting sexual abuse, making it difficult to know how widespread the crisis is. "These things are taking place underground," said Kimaya. "Even the albino killings started quietly, before the atrocities were finally exposed in public."