Relationship & Health

Article: Albinos are Humans, Stop the Discrimination

ALBINO’S ARE HUMANS, STOP THE DESCRIMINATION: A CUE FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION’S SUPPORT TO THE ALBINO FOUNDATION

Albinism is considered as a rare genetic disorder which causes the skin, hair, or eyes to have less or no colour. It is medically considered as the lack of pigment in a person or animal which results to white skin, light hair, and pink eyes.

Over the decades, persons with albinism ‘’albinos’’ have suffered a great deal of discrimination from the society with Africa in the lead. This goes against the European Union’s Convention on Human Rights. In Africa, people living with albinism usually suffer isolation, stigmatization, and sometimes brutal death.  This stigmatization is alarming.

In June 2011 in Gboko, Benue state, it was reported that a mother killed her child because she was born with albinism. She reported that her husband and family members convinced her to kill the child because the child was considered as a disgrace and a bad omen. The case serves as a reference to inhumane treatment that persons with albinism continue to face in our society.

This is because people are misguided about albinism; they don’t understand the causes and/or lack orientation about albinism.

Nigeria is currently estimated to have about two million persons with albinism. It is therefore imperative to educate the general population about albinism and why it is important to treat them with respect and love. As a result of this urgency, the European Union delegation to Nigeria signed a two-year contract with the albino foundation to help support its cause for a better welfare and social services for persons with albinism in Nigeria. The agreement is also aimed towards protecting the basic fundamental rights of persons with albinism in Nigeria.

To get a better perspective about albinism, this article will analyse the term albinism, what it means to be a person of albinism in Nigeria, the stigma attached, and ways we can better accommodate, care, love and support persons with albinism. It is necessary to educate the general population about albinism in Nigeria due to the ever increasing discrimination. Recently, most persons with albinism have been a subject of money ritual and brutal killing. These inhumane treatments infringe on their fundamental human rights and basic freedom as human beings.

This article will also lay out the importance of treating persons with albinism with equal rights based on the European Union Convention on Human Rights.


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What is albinism?

Albinism is considered as a genetic disorder or condition in which a person lacks the gene responsible for producing sufficient melanin or pigment responsible for protecting the skin from ultraviolent rays from the sun. Usually, the gene that carries the albinism is usually a recessive gene and becomes active mostly when two parents carrying the gene pass it on to their child.

There are generally two types of albinism with many classes and types and sub-types. The two types of albinism are Ocular and Oculocutaneous. Ocular are usually more expressed and visible in the eyes while Oculocutaneous are visible in the hair, skin and also the eyes.

Level of Stigmatization

In Schools

For decades, most learning institutions in Nigeria pair students with albinism under the same environment or classroom without taking into consideration the visual impairment associated with albinism. Because of their poor vision, some persons with albinism are sometimes taken to schools for the blind. Considering that persons with albinism have poor sight, they sometimes perform poorly or are slow learners , largely due to the inability to see the writing board clearly.

Medically, persons with albinism suffer from nystagmus or pendulous nystagmus, this condition makes words on paper to wiggle thereby making it hard for them to focus. Considering these conditions, it makes no sense why institutions of learning will pair persons with albinism with other students and also expect them to perform excellently in their exams and other tests. It is therefore imperative that schools provide special classes and educational programs to persons with albinism.

At Work

In Nigeria, employers both government and private sectors avoid persons with albinisms because they are perceived as either too slow or lack the mental capacity to work. This is usually not true because there are so many educated and competent persons with albinism who can function effectively. In some cases, some employers request a person with albinism to provide a driving license even though the job applied for doesn’t require such. For some jobs, it is expected that employers understand the conditions albinism face, but yet they are subjected to work long hours under the sun which invariably results to cancer of the skin.

Ways to accommodate/advocate for persons with Albinism

All humans are born with equal rights hence deserve to enjoy life the way it is meant to be. There should be proper inclusion and integration of all irrespective of colour shape and size. Persons born with albinism are special and as such should be treated as special minority, and properly integrated within our communities. The government and private establishments are required to provide special services within the education sector, healthcare, and employment. The society should encourage persons with albinism to achieve their full potential because everyone on earth has a special gift to offer to humanity.

  • In educational institutions, there should be special training, teaching, and coaching of persons with albinism. This is to ensure they develop to their full potential and contribute their quota to our society.
  • At work, persons with albinism should not be discriminated and they should not be subjected to long hours of work or to any kind of work that will expose them to excess sun rays.
  • Religious groups should also admonish their followers to love and care for persons with albinism, and to know that they are special.
  • There should be constant orientation especially for people in the rural communities to accept and care for persons with albinism because they are also humans.

Sources:

https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Convention_ENG.pdf

EUROPEAN UNION DELEGATION TO NIGERIA AND ECOWAS SUPPORT THE FOUNDATION ON IMPROVING ACCESS TO SOCIAL SERVICES FOR PERSONS WITH ALBINISM

Author: Blessing Chinekwu Okeke

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