Hairs of people with albinism are on high demand in Ghana. Barbering shops have proven to be the main centres for the sale and so ritualistic now contact barbers for it. A research by the Ghana Association of Persons with Albinism (GAPA) has revealed.
The demand is driven by the unethical quest by people to get rich quick and other superstitions surrounding the body parts of people with albinism.
Executive Director of GAPA, Newton Kwabla Katseko, disclosed this at a news conference in Accra on Thursday, June 18, 2020.
According to him, the revelation followed a research conducted as a result of constant harassment, discrimination, stigmatization and banishment of persons with albinism in some communities in Ghana.
“During our research, rch it was revealed that body parts of persons with albinism are been sole in some places in Ghana. We proof further and it was found that hairs of persons with albinism are been sole in some urban and community markets.
And when we press upon to know the sources of supply, it was discovered barbering shops are their main suppliers, ” the GAPA Executive Director stated.
It is not clear what the Ghanaian Ritualises use the albinism hair for, but many people believed the horrendous trade flourishes and fetch a high price because albinos body parts bring good luck, wealth, black magic and economic and political fortunes.
Albinism is an inherited genetic condition characterised by the absence of melanin,which gives the skin, hair and eyes their very pale, all most translucent colour.
The inhumane killing of people with albinism for their body parts and organs is common in some countries within the sub-Sahara communities especially Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda and Burundi, among others.
Until the latest GAPA research revelation on high demand for albinism hair, the issue of wanton discrimination and stigmatization was the only prevalent cases against persons with albinism in Ghana due to culture believes.
Some of the communities where such outmoded customary practices tied against people with albinism take place at Bokuruwa in the Kwahu East District, Akwamufie in the Asuogyaman District and Abease near Atebubu in the Pru East District.
But Mr Katseko said, the research further revealed that the custom originated as part of rituals sacrifices offered to certain local gods as the traditionalists claimed their ancestors used to sacrifice the blood of PWAs to the gods.
He, however, noted that the prevalence of banishment of PWAs from the communities emerged as a modification in response to the effects of modernization.
He added that, despite the existence of strong laws and modernisation, persons with albinism in some of the communities enter move freely and only allowed to enter some localities but are prohibited from areas closer to chiefs palace and shrines of certain deities.
The GAPA executive director said it has also been established during the research that stigmatization has forced some parents of children with albinism to deny them paternity thereby compounding their social and economic problems.
He explained that though Article 26 of the 1992 Constitution supports the promotion of different cultures and beliefs, it prohibits all cultural practices which dehumanize or are injurious to the physical and mental wellbeing of a person, stressing, ” the customary banishment of PWAs contravenes the 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana.
“It also contravenes the National Disability Act 715 of 206, and the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The custom is, therefore, an infringement on the fundamental rights of PWAs,” he added.
Mr Katseko said superstition beliefs are hard to uproot and the lives of people with albinism would likely continue to be at risk for the foreseeable future.
GAPA, he said has petitioned several institutions including the National and Regional House of Chiefs, CHRAG and Parliament, against the abuse of the rights of persons with albinism but no concrete steps have been taken to safeguard their life’s and rights.
While urging Ghanaians to support the awareness campaign against wanton discrimination and stigmatization on PWAs, Mr Katseko called on the government to collaborate with GAPA and Chiefs to identify all communities in which such customary practices remain prevalent.
He also called on the Government not to recognize or gazette chiefs from traditional areas where such outmoded cultural practices remain prevalent.
By Felix Nyaaba