A 28-year-old Kenyan has been arrested by Tanzanian police for trying to sell another man for his body parts. In a sting operation, police pretended to be businessmen buying albino body parts, which are highly prized in Tanzania by witchdoctors for their alleged healing properties. Police struck a deal equivalent to over $250,000 with the man who tricked his 20-year old victim into believing he would get a job in Tanzania as a truck driving assistant.
This type of trafficking is different from organ trafficking where there is consent from the donor who usually gets money directly in exchange for his/her organs.
People with albinism, a condition characterized by complete or partial lack of color in the skin, hair and eyes, are under constant threat in East Africa. They are dehumanized and seen by traffickers as a lucrative business opportunity. Albino body parts such as hair, genitals and limbs are used for potions which supposedly make people rich or healthy.
The Albino Association of Tanzania says that although 4,000 albinos are officially registered in the country, the actual number could be as high as 173,000 because so many are in hiding. Over the last three years more than 50 albino adults and children have been killed.
The Tanzanian government despite promises has been slow with tackling this problem. Even though this case has brought it back into their agenda, is law enforcement the only answer? Without a change in cultural attitudes towards witchcraft, will there ever be an end to this problem? How about making it part of your agenda too by raising awareness today.
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