Albinism is a heterogeneous group of hereditary abnormalities of melanin synthesis, characterized by a congenital reduction or absence of melanin pigment in skin, hair and eyes. People affected by albinism are particularly sensitive to ultraviolet radiation and have to use long-sleeved shirts, long pants, wide-brimmed hats and sunscreen creams with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or more to protect themselves, mainly during the hottest hours of the day.
In Tanzania there are more than 300,000 albinos, whose existence is heavily scarred by discrimination and violence: they are abandoned at birth, raped, killed, mutilated and skinned to make good luck charms. As a conseguence of an ancient tribal belief which still exists and unfortunately is increasing, especially in the poorest areas of this country, albinism is considered a curse or a taboo and many people believe that an albino relative is Gods’ punishment.
The governments continue to avoid the problem, allowing the ignorance to persist.