We Are Human, Just Like You: Albinism in Malawi – Implications for Security
The plight of people with albinism in Malawi has received little attention, despite evidence of increasing attacks on people with albinism for their body parts for use in rituals in recent years. While a recent spate of attacks on people with albinism in late 2020 and early 2021 has drawn the attention of international organizations, relative inaction on the part of the authorities places the security of people with albinism in Malawi firmly in their own hands, and those of their families and communities. This article draws on the findings of participatory research undertaken between 2015 and 2019 to explore context-specific knowledge about the security of people with albinism in Malawi and to reveal perceptions of what makes people with albinism secure or insecure. It traces the roots of these attacks in the beliefs associated with albinism and other disabilities, the various threats to people with albinism in Malawi, and responses put in place at different levels of society to ensure their personal security. Framed in relation to critical work in the field of human security, our findings underscore the importance of changing societal attitudes and developing a coordinated collaborative response to bring about effective and lasting change.
Keywords: Albinism; Human Security; Beliefs; Malawi