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UGANDA’S ALBINOS DEMAND PARLIAMENT REPRESENTATION

Minority issues in Uganda

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Tens of thousands of Ugandans suffering from albinism feel that they have been left out by their government and have demanded that they get representation in the country’s parliament.
For many, life as an albino is not rosy, as they have suffered discrimination, stigmatisation and some have even been killed for ritual purposes.
Like most of East Africa, Uganda’s 40 000 albinos live on the peripheries of society, unwanted and despised.
Gladys Liga, a 25 year old who recently graduated from university, says her father abandoned her mother when she was still a child because she had given birth to an albino. ??Liga says she was only able to get an education because her mother struggled against all odds to see that her daughter received the best care.
“My mother struggled hard so that I get educated, and I will in turn take care of her in her old age,” she says.
But Liga is one of the few albinos that have been lucky, most have been abandoned, with life becoming difficult at every turn.
Rebecca Namuddu, a social worker believes that the stigma “has led to most parents of albino children abandoning them.” And in some cases, men have abandoned their wives or partners after the birth of an albino child.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Some cultures in East Africa believe that the body parts of albinos may be used for medicinal purposes or to bring luck and this has seen many people suffering from albinism being subjected to ritual murders. Last year, Reuters reported that youg albino girls in Tanzania were being raped by people who believed they offered a cure for HIV/AIDS.
The threat faced by albinos in the region is such that “even mature albinos in some parts of the region, especially in South Sudan are hunted by traditional healers from Tanzania,” continued Namuddu. “Some of these healers believe that albino body parts can be used to make charms to make people rich.”
Parliamentary representation
In response to the stigmatisation, the albinos feel their issues are not well debated by legislators and this has led to the perpetuation of stereotypes and ignorance on their plight.
A group of people suffering from albinism on Thursday asked the media to help expose parents who rejected their children because they suffered from the skin pigmentation disease.??The group has requested the Ugandan government to consider enacting legislation to ensure the protection of albinos both within their families and the society.
??”Some parents mistreat their albino children. We have received a number of complaints from mothers whose children have been rejected by their fathers because they albinos,” Jude Ssebyanzi, chairperson of Uganda Albino Association said.
The association wants such parents to be exposed and punished by the state for abusing their albino children. ??They also want a special representative and recognition in parliament, as they felt they were being sidelined from the electoral process.
“We are not allowed to participate in elections of people with disabilities when electing representatives in parliament. Even the members of parliament representing the disabled people have not represented our interests,” he said.

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Omojuwa

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