Saturday, March 3, 2012
Primitive Africa: In 2009 Mariamu Staford, a Tanzanian woman in her mid-20s, was sleeping in her hut when a group of men broke in and chopped off her arms
In the shadow of the Rwandan genocide and perennial war in Congo, where violence against women has become so common as to be considered a war tactic, Staford’s story is sadly less shocking than it might be. But Staford wasn’t attacked for tribalism, demoralization or sex. She has albinism, a medical condition in which the body produces little or no pigment. In East Africa albinos’ limbs are highly valued — often fetching thousands of dollars on the black market — by black witch doctors who use the bones in potions they sell to those who think they bring prosperity. Since 2007 in Tanzania, 64 people with albinism have been murdered for their body parts. Fourteen others have been mutilated, including a 13-year-old girl whose right arm was severed as she lay sleeping next to her mother.