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Cute, right? For the albino children of Malawi, these hats are of grave importance. They are born with little to no pigment in their skin and hair, and without the hats, they would get severe sunburns. And sun lotion is way too expensive.
But there is another danger. Fifteen albinos have been reported abducted and killed in Malawi since the start of the year.
African rituals and spiritual ideas around albinism have led to the brutal murder and attacks on innocent men, women and especially children under the influence of witchcraft and superstition and desperation for wealth. These ideas have been around for many generations. In recent years however, witch doctors have been teaching misconceived ideas about the promise of wealth, success and power when albino limbs or hair are used in a potion as part of a witchcraft practices. They claim that their magic will bring prosperity tot the user. Tanzanian authorities have arrested two hundred witch doctors in a crackdown on the shocking black market trade in body parts.
Due to the lack of education around albinism, albinos are also presumed to be cursed and bring bad luck as well. Fathers often suspect the mother of the albino child of infidelity with a white man. Or the child might be the ghost of a European colonist. This can cause immense strain on families and relationships. Many albino babies become victims of infanticide to these superstitious views.
The Middle Ages are still here today. If only these crimes could be cured by wearing a hat…
< check out more hat photos @ Ailsa’s Travel Theme Photo Challenge.