Thursday, May 5, 2011

The dangers of superstition coupled with despair

Best to skip this one if you don't want to be depressed. Reuters reports:
Hundreds of girls raped, murdered in Tanzania for black magic AIDS ‘cure’
Hundreds of albinos are thought to have been killed for black magic purposes in Tanzania and albino girls are being raped because of a belief they offer a cure for AIDS, a Canadian rights group said on Thursday. 
At least 63 albinos, including children, are known to have been killed, mostly in the remote northwest of the country. 
"We believe there are hundreds and hundreds of killings in Tanzania, but only a small number are being reported to the police," Peter Ash, founder and director of Under The Same Sun (UTSS), told Reuters. 
"There is belief that if you have relations with a girl with albinism, you will cure AIDS. So there are many girls with albinism who are being raped in this country because of this belief, which is a false belief." 
Around 1.4 million Tanzanians among a population of 40.7 million have the HIV virus that leads to AIDS. 
Albino hunters kill their victims and harvest their blood, hair, genitals and other body parts for potions that witchdoctors say bring luck in love, life and business. 
"(It is believed) a person with albinism is a curse. They are from the devil, they are not human, they do not die, they simply disappear," said Ash. . . 
The Tanzanian government says it is determined to halt the macabre killings, but has been widely criticized for inaction. 
I wonder if the effort to halt these rapes and killings has included telling people that there are no such things as witches, that black magic doesn't exist. That medicine is how sick people become well (if becoming well is possible), you can't cure a disease by attacking someone, and albinos are people just like anyone else.

Even sadder is that this isn't actually news-- the report above is from today, but the slaughter of albinos in Tanzania for black magic purposes has been going on for years.  In 2009 the government instituted a "ban on all traditional healers," but it doesn't seem to have stopped the practice.

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