Albinos in Tanzania - and in some other parts of Africa - are being hunted down for their body parts in exchange for thousands of dollars.
Fuelled by greed and a superstitious beliefs about the limbs of albinos being 'lucky', those with the hereditary genetic condition - about 1 in every 1,400 Tanzanians - are regularly and brutally attacked in some regions in the East African country.
Albinism is a genetic condition whereby those affected do not inherit the usual skin pigmentation from their parents. Their bodies do not produce the normal amount of melanin, a chemical which determines people's eye, skin and hair colour. Generally, this means that people with albinism tend to have extremely pale skin, hair, and eyes, and, as a result, stand out amongst others in their community.The BBC reports on the alarming phenomenon from Mwanza in north-west Tanzania:
Based on the unfounded idea that the body parts of albinos can be used as good luck charms, some people are willing to shell out as much as $3,000 or $4,000 for a limb, or even as extravagant an amount as $75,000 for an entire human body.
As such, those with the condition are vulnerable to attacks in which parts of their body are removed, leaving them either severely injured or, in some cases, dead.
Since records of these attacks started being recorded, there have been 74 killings and 59 survivors. Even the dead are preyed upon - in fact, 16 grave robbings have been recorded.
And, as is typical with statistics related to human rights abuses, this is just the tip of the iceberg.[[imagecaption|| Credit: Getty]]
The following individual cases do a lot to highlight how horrific and utterly unjust albinos - including very young children - are treated in parts of Tanzania.
In December, four-year-old Pendo Emmanuelle Nundi was abducted from her home. Her father and uncle were thought to be responsible for her disappearance and were arrested as a result. Despite the offer of a $1,400 reward, the girl has still not been found.
At the age of 10, Mwigulu Matonange was mutilated by two men while he was walking home from school with a friend. The brutal attack, which took place in February 2014, saw the schoolboy's left arm hacked off. "I was held down like a goat about to be slaughtered," he told IPP Media.[[imagecaption|| Credit: Getty]]
Just a year earlier, a 38-year-old albino woman was attacked by her husband and four other men with machetes while she was asleep, according to a UN report.
The victim's eight-year-old daughter witnessed her father leaving the room carrying her mother's arm.
In spite of the truly horrifying nature of the attacks, only 10 people have ever been brought to trial in connection with such crimes - and not one of them was a buyer. Of the few convictions, all of them have been so-called "witch doctors" and hired killers, according to Peter Ash, owner of the charity Under the Same Sun.
No customer has ever been named.