(CNN) – A newly released Amnesty International report has found a bloody spike in the murders of people with albinism, a genetic condition resulting in little or no pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes.
Four people, including a baby, were murdered in April alone. 18 have been killed since November 2014, Amnesty says. Others are missing, leaving those with the condition fearing for their lives.
This is the Malawi that charms visitors. Bucolic, quaint and largely peaceful. Except that is, for one community. For the country’s albinos, going about every day activities is quite literally a gamble between life and death, the risk of death by dismemberment to satisfy a barbaric demand.
Chakuputsa is too young to understand the price tag on her head. But her mother does. So too does her big sister who, like her, lives with albinism.
Agness told Amnesty International researchers about the day her youngest daughter was attacked and abducted from home by three men who wanted to chop off her limbs and sell the body parts to witch doctors, traditional healers who deal in the lie that the bones and organs of albino people bring happiness and wealth.
Chakuputsa was saved by quick thinking neighbors who chased after the men, forcing them to dump the child in nearby bushes, leaving her unharmed. Her mother knows she was lucky, this time anyway.
Agness’ daughters are just two of thousands of defenseless men, women and children, who have become Malawi’s hunted.
“It’s really pathetic, unheard of – it’s something we never thought that it can really happen in and amongst us. And it has really raised fear. Imagine the thought to say what should I do, shall I lock up in my house – why should people hunt me like they – like they’re hunting for animals to eat,” said Grace Mazzah, Association of People with Albinism in Malawi.
With the recent surge in killings on everyone’s minds, this minority community is feeling more vulnerable than ever.