Strong Condemnation by LHRC and TAS: Exploitation of Person with Albinism during Simba Day Sparks Outrage and Calls for Dignity and Respect
Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), in partnership with the Tanzania Albinism Society (TAS), strongly condemns the incident that occurred on August 6th, 2023, during Simba Day, which involved the exploitation of a person with albinism in a manner that resembled a semi-nude individual wearing a soiled diaper on stage in front of a crowd of thousands at the National Stadium.
During a press conference held at the LHRC headquarters in Kijitonyama, the national chairman of TAS, Godson Mollel, mentioned that this incident follows a similar event that took place on August 8th, 2022, also during Simba Day, where a casket and a cross were used to mock a person with albinism as a witch doctor. These actions not only degrade the dignity of people with albinism in the country but also lead to numerous discussions within the community, including on online platforms that perpetuate mockery towards individuals with albinism, going against the principles of human rights.
"It should be noted that, for many years now, there have been significant advocacy efforts for the protection of people with albinism in the country due to a history of suffering that has led to the loss of lives among people with albinism, as well as a large number of victims of acts of violence and stigma. Meanwhile, society has a tendency to perceive people with albinism in a way they are accustomed to, especially through social media and media," said Mollel.
Dr. Anna Henga, the Executive Director of LHRC, urges all influential institutions in society, especially major football teams, to refrain from such actions and instead focus on promoting respect for the dignity of people with albinism in the country.
"We call upon the community, including individuals with albinism themselves, not to take such actions lightly but rather to strongly condemn them. People with albinism are human beings just like others, with the right not to be demeaned and to have their dignity respected," said Dr. Henga.
Dr. Henga advises that people with albinism should not allow themselves to be used, particularly in matters that degrade their dignity.
In many societies, people with albinism have been associated with negative customs and traditions that degrade their dignity. Therefore, the continuation of these actions undermines the efforts of the government, advocacy organizations, and individual stakeholders to educate the community about albinism.
According to Article 12(2) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania (1977), everyone is entitled to recognition and respect for their dignity. This article reflects Article 8 of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which emphasizes the need to provide education to the community on disability issues and for the government to place more emphasis on ending discrimination, harassment, stigmatization, stereotypes, and all acts that degrade the dignity of persons with disabilities, including people with albinism. Similarly, the Persons with Disabilities Act of 2010 requires everyone to ensure the protection of people with disabilities and to put an end to abuse and harassment.