LAWILINK/Amnesty International

Malawi: Killing of a girl with albinism shows community urgently needs better protection

The killing of a three-year-old girl shows the urgent need to better protect people with albinism following a series of attacks over recent weeks.

The horrific nature of the death of Tadala Chirwa is deeply shocking, and a cause of great concern

Vongai Chikwanda, Senior Campaigner for Amnesty International in Southern Africa

Amnesty International calls on the authorities to improve the protection of persons with albinism across the country after the killing of this week of Tadala Chirwa. Before midnight on 30 November, an unidentified man broke into her grandmother’s house where she was sleeping and killed her, before chopping off her left arm and taking it away.

“The horrific nature of the death of Tadala Chirwa is deeply shocking, and a cause of great concern,” said Vongai Chikwanda, Amnesty International’s Campaigner for Southern Africa.

“This killing and the removal of a limb is consistent with past patterns on attacks on persons with albinism, which are driven by the false belief that their body parts bring wealth and good luck.”

“Authorities must promptly and thoroughly investigate the killing of Tadala Chirwa and ensure that those suspected of responsibility are brought to justice in fair trials.”

The authorities must also take urgent steps to guarantee the safety and security of persons with albinism in Malawi

Vongai Chikwanda

“The authorities must also take urgent steps to guarantee the safety and security of persons with albinism in Malawi, including by investigating all past attacks and delivering justice for victims and their families.”

Background

The attack took place in Mawawa village, near the town of Kasungu, in central Malawi before midnight on 30 November. Tadala Chirwa was reportedly sleeping in the same bed with her grandmother when an unidentified man broke into the house, stabbed the child in the neck, chopped off her arm, and fled. The attack follows the attempted abduction of a two-year old boy with albinism in Phalombe district, in the south of the country, on 19 November.

The toddler was asleep with his mother and a sibling when three masked assailants tried to force their way into their home. The mother managed to get her family to safety. In October the body of a person with albinism who had died was illegally exhumed from a grave and their legs and arms were removed.

Albinism is a rare inherited condition. People with albinism have a reduced amount of melanin, or no melanin, affecting their skin colouring and eyesight.