Prejudice Takes Many Forms


Fueled by Superstition, People Are Violently Attacking Albinos in Tanzania

By Samuel Oakford originally posted at Vice.com

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August 27, 2014 | 6:15 pm

In the past month, a spate of violent attacks in Tanzania targeting people with albinism for their body parts has highlighted a morbid practice linked to witchcraft.

People with albinism, also known as albinos, are born with a deficiency of melanin pigmentation. Those with a complete lack of pigmentation have extremely pale skin and hair, and their eyes are typically a light shade of blue. The condition generally results from recessive genes carried by parents. Albinism in Africa brings with it an increased chance of developing fatal skin cancer, and the lack of pigment to protect eyes against the bright sun can cause sight problems.

Africans with the condition can suffer alienating social stigma in communities where their neighbors and relatives believe them to be ghosts, cursed, or intellectually incapacitated. In some regions, they face a near-constant threat of violence.

UN officials and rights groups reported at least five assaults on albinos that occurred in Tanzania in less than two weeks in August.

On August 5, three men armed with machetes hacked a 15-year-old girl’s right arm off below the elbow in the western region of Tabora. Her family was threatened with death and could not scream for help. Later that day, the assailants targeted her uncle, who also has albinism, though he was able to escape.

The three men were eventually arrested, including a local witch doctor who informed authorities that they had amputated her arm because buyers were willing to pay as much as $600 dollars for it.

On August 14, the mutilated body of a young albino man was found lying in a swampy area in the outskirts of Dar es Salam. Pictures of the victim shared on social media showed that a large patch of skin had been excised from his torso and a hole bored into his abdomen.

Two days later, a pair of men attacked a 35-year-old woman with albinism in a small village in Tabora. They killed her husband for attempting to defend her before severing the lower portion of her left arm and fleeing.

‘The stigma and discrimination is mind-boggling.’

Though these acts of mutilation are widely abhorred and spiritual practices in the region vary greatly, in isolated areas with little access to medical information it is still believed that the body parts of people with albinism can impart mystical or magical benefits.

“In sub-Saharan Africa there’s a significant belief in witchcraft, which often involves the use of body parts,” Peter Ash, who heads the albinism-rights group Under the Same Sun, told VICE News. “That’s been the case in the region for a long time, well before colonization. It’s part of a deep-seated cultural, historical, and spiritual practice.”

In parts of the Great Lakes region of eastern Africa, UN officials have seen reports of gold miners using amulets made of the bones of albinos to enhance their luck, and of fishermen weaving their hair into nets to ensure a large catch.

Since 1998, Under the Same Sun has documented 332 attacks on people with albinism in 24 African countries, including 147 in Tanzania alone. Ash said that the reported figures are only a fraction of the assaults actually taking place across the continent. Most incidents occur in rural areas, where they sometimes go unreported and are rarely investigated.

In many parts of Africa, albinism occurs at higher rates than in much of the world. In Tanzania, one in 1,400 people have the disorder — roughly 35,000 people nationwide. Globally, the rate is generally one in 20,000.

With limbs regularly selling for hundreds of dollars and entire bodies reportedly costing up to $75,000 in a country where the median annual income is less than $600, there is a widespread assumption in Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa that members of the business and political elite are behind the demand. A rise in attacks has been documented in several countries ahead of elections, when candidates have reportedly employed witch doctors to increase their likelihood of victory.

“Witch doctors have long been influential in many communities, but now they’re trying to make a buck, rather than just being elder and respected practitioners,” Ash said. “Now they’re entrepreneurs.”

‘They are rejected by their families and communities, they don’t have access to health services or education. It’s a vicious cycle of discrimination and poverty.’

Though Tanzania — where 93 percent of Christians and Muslims say they believe in witchcraft, according to a 2010 Pew Research report — is often portrayed as the epicenter of this grisly phenomenon, much of that perception stems from the presence in the country of non-governmental organizations like Under the Same Sun, which has an office with 20 employees who can be dispatched to document crimes.

After a 2008 BBC report on the Tanzanian trade in body parts horrified the international community, activists began paying closer attention to the plight of albinos in the country. But while closer observation has seen a greater reporting of incidents in Tanzania, the same cannot be said of the rest of Africa, where freedom of the press is weak and rates of violence against albinos remains for the most part unknown.

Because neighbors and relatives are often involved in attacks on people with albinism, police face obstacles even when they are willing to investigate. Families often bury deceased albino relatives in unmarked graves out of fear that their body parts will be harvested even in death.

Amid the increase in attacks over recent years, Tanzania’s government has increasingly housed children with albinism in schools created for children with disabilities — an ostensibly protective measure that has lately prompted concerns of segregation.

“When it was proposed, it was an emergency measure, but it has now become a long-term solution,” Alicia Londono, a UN human rights official who recently returned from a visit to the country, told VICE News. “The conditions are very bad. Many of the children already have the early stages of skin cancer, and the staff is not trained to treat this disease.”

More than half of these schools now house albino children. Londono described them as “dumping places” where families leave unwanted progeny, and noted that children in these facilities face a risk of sexual and physical abuse.

“They are rejected by their families and communities, they don’t have access to health services or education,” she said. “It’s a vicious cycle of discrimination and poverty.”

Ikponwosa Ero, a researcher from Nigeria who has albinism and works with Under the Same Sun, told VICE News that everyday life for children with the condition is immensely difficult.

“The stigma and discrimination is mind-boggling,” she said. “Aside from physical attacks, the suffering that happens is beyond comprehension. The ejection from school, rejection from society. I wasn’t allowed to step outside at night without a relative, and I was always aware that attacks by ritualists was a possibility.”

Activists and UN officials believe that efforts to educate the public about albinism will help abate attacks on albinos and ensure that they have greater access to services and support — but Londono noted that it won’t be easy.

“Everyone from authorities who I met to the driver of my taxi referred to beliefs that are attached to the condition, that they are subhuman beings,” she said.

Follow Samuel Oakford on Twitter: @samueloakford

 

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The Human Family has degenerated to the point where education  has crumbled, and all over the world superstition and bigotry, meanness and paranoia, are what has replaced a good education for many people.

 

This story is horrifying because these children already have a serious health condition, and it leads them to develop melanoma because they live in Africa and their lack of coloring cannot adequately protect them.  That is the problem these children should have, but because of bigotry and superstition, fueled by ignorance, they are being hunted down and cannot live with their own families.  These children are aware of  other children who have the same physical condition who have been murdered for no other reason than that they are different.

 

All around the world, prejudice is growing and spreading like the deadly disease it is, but it is not spreading through the exchange of fluids or a bug bite — it is spreading because we ae not teaching our children tolerance and understanding.  We are teaching hatred and lies instead.

 

What are you doing to stop the spread?  Are you speaking up against bigotry?  Are you speaking up for education?  Act out and teach the people around you that Hate Is Not The Way.

 

 

The Women’s Revolution


Gloria Steinem was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom last November. It is America’s highest honor for a civilian. Her work on behalf of women in the areas of equality and empowerment were the reasons for this prominent award. In her acceptance speech, she spoke about what remains to be done for women. She declared that there are still goals which need to be met. Ms. Steinem discussed equal valuing of women’s work, ending violence against women, recognizing reproductive freedom as a basic human right, and uprooting racism and sexism. This is a hefty list of goals. Comments of the GOP flow through my mind and I realize the enormity of this undertaking.

 

We also have some myths about feminism that we need to straighten out. One is that this movement, also called women’s liberation. womanism, mujerista, GRRLS, is only for white middle-class women. This is not true. I have black women friends who are feminists and women with less money, who are on fixed incomes and are involved with stopping this War on Women. A poll was conducted in 1972 by Louis Harris and Associates that revealed black women were almost twice as likely as white women to support these issues. Now I read Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique and became committed to the issues. Black women read Shirley Chisholm, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and Maya Angelou.  These women  inspired the dream in black women. The idea that feminism was designed only for white middle-class claim was invented to turn off women. It negated their need for change.

 

The second myth is that those of us who worked, protested, marched, demonstrated, and lobbied in the 70’s and beyond have accomplished all that can be done for women. Young women felt that our work was done. Women could now relax.

 

The reality is, we still have much to do. We need to be legally equal. We are the only citizens who are not legally equal. Once we survived the backlash against equality, we still need to work to be socially and legally equal. President Obama has signed an equal pay for equal work legislation. While this was huge and we are grateful, women still do not receive equal pay for equal work. Please note we do not want more pay than men earn for the same work, we just want equitable pay.

 

We are also dealing with the fact that many women and children in the work are living in violent situations. Women are still being battered at about every nine seconds. I repeat, every nine seconds. Battering can be mental,emotional or physical abuse. Physical abuse can include slapping, kicking , pinching, punching, pulling hair, punching where clothes will cover the evidence. Being pushed and shoved is battering. Being threatened with a knife or gun is abuse. The numbers of women and children who are living in violence is staggering.

 

In the modern world, most other democratic nations have more women in government positions than America. It is still unusual for American women to be elected. The United States is a modern democracy, and yet, almost alone among such nations, we don’t have some form of a national child-care system. The average cost of child care here has surpassed the average cost of college tuition. If this continues, people will have to have less children in order to give them a chance in life.

 

A woman’s ability to decide when and whether to bear a child is not a “social issue”. It is a human right, like the right to free speech For the female half of the world reproductive freedom is the biggest economic issue. Women who have children to raise, are less likely to get hired and and to be well paid. Nothing else is going to be equal until men spend as much time performing child care as women do.

 

As women, we often raise our girls the same as we do our sons. We seldom raise our sons the same as our daughters. To allow a son to play with “girl toys” or to go “girl things” like helping to clean or care for younger children, takes a lot of courage.

 

Being a woman today take a great deal of courage.  There is a book out called Sex and World Peace, which proves that the biggest indicator of whether a country is violent within itself, or will use military violence against another country, is not poverty, natural resources, or even a countries’ degree of democracy. It is violence against women.

 

Only if each of us has a torch will there be enough light to create World Peace.

 

 

 

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Motivation

Motivation

 

 

 

Domestic Violence Stats

Domestic Violence Stats

Update on my Garden


Though our terrible winter took its toll on our gardens here in Cleveland. I am happy that many of my plants survived and while not thriving, they are fragrant and the color is a joy to my eyes and I hope to my neighbors also. Though the blooms are not as lush as they were in years past, I am delighted to have them to share with you. I hope you have a moment of pleasure as you peruse my photos.

 

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio  2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Roses are a favorite of mine. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Roses are a favorite of mine. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Reality Check


 

 

Welcome to the real world.

 

 

The Milky Way. If we destroy ourselves, what happens to the universe?

The Milky Way. If we destroy ourselves, what happens to the universe?

 

 

 

Dolphins living free until we completely destroy our planet

Dolphins living free until we completely destroy our planet

 

 

 

Twilight on boat launch at Avon. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Twilight on boat launch at Avon. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

California Poppies. Another gift from Mother Nature.

California Poppies. Another gift from Mother Nature.

 

 

 

Upper Waterfall in Letchworth State Park. The Genesee River has formed a gorge. We must take care of the gifts from Mother Earth.

Upper Waterfall in Letchworth State Park. The Genesee River has formed a gorge. We must take care of the gifts from Mother Earth.

We have to take care of our planet. It is more important than oil, money, arms, greed, jealously, bigotry, injustice, hatred and war. We must take care of Mother Earth. Our planet has changed greatly during just my lifetime. There is a supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park. If it blows, it will destroy most of America. Yet we continue fracking, mining, polluting the earth and the air. We must stop. To choose not to stop is to commit suicide.

 

 

 Great Spirit

 

Great Spirit,

give us hearts to understand;

never to take

from creation’s  beauty more than we give;

never to destroy wantonly for the furtherance of greed,

never to deny to give our hands for the building of earth’s beauty;

never to take from her what we cannot use.

Give us hearts to understand that to destroy earth’s

music is to create confusion,

that to wreck her appearance is to blind us to beauty;

that to callously pollute her fragrance is to make a house of stench;

that as we care for her she will care for us. Amen     —U.N. Environmental Sabbath Program

 

 

 

 

Praying for Mother Earth.

Praying for Mother Earth.

 

Only a self-destructive species would do to our planet, what we have done.

Only a self-destructive species would do to our planet, what we have done.

Are You an Unknown Woman?


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As women in modern society, women are told to do a lot of things. We are told to talk, to shut up and to sit down. We are told to speak up and to quit talking. Life for women, has been like this for Millenniums. One way women have been able to survive this subservient treatment has been to get to know who she really is and what she wants to be. To survive the patriarchal hierarchy, women have to be certain of themselves and who they are. How do we do this? Solitude. Solitude, aloneness, peace are what we need to discover ourselves.

 

Alice Koller was a PHD from Harvard University. Her doctorate was in Philosophy. She realized she couldn’t find meaning in here work, or in her relationships with men, she felt she had reached bottom. So Alice decided to take a journey. She decided to take a journey inside to find who she really was. She rented a small house on Nantucket. She bought a puppy and determined to stay until she understood who the woman was she saw every morning in the mirror.

 

    Solitude   

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    A red Kayak. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People come and go in life. Take care of yourself.

People come and go in life. Take care of yourself.

 

An Unknown Woman, is the story of her journey to herself. The book was written at the beginning of the sixties and the women’s movement. I am sure Alice isn’t the first to go looking for herself, nor will she be the last. I am sure you will understand her friends thought she was crazy. She was determined to find the source of her unhappiness. She realized that there was no place where she wanted to be, where she belonged, or where she could go.  Solitary walks on the beach with her puppy and surviving a winter on the Nantucket shore kept her pretty busy. I do suggest you read the book or take a similar journey in your lives. Ladies, remember there is nothing wrong with alone as long as you choose your solitude. Good luck to everyone journeying to find themselves.

 

 

A woman on a journey to herself.

A woman on a journey to herself.

jseagull

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2014

Who Wants War?


Many People have wanted peace for millenniums. Artists of every different types of media have to ability to see and feel the importance of peace. Many have written affirmations. Composed song lyrics, written poems.  Artists paint for peace and sketch for peace. Artists need to rise up and make your voices heard. Not in a violent way, but loud enough to shake the rafters.

 

 

 

 

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                                 Vincent Van Gogh

 

 

 This quote is from Vincent Van Gogh

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Peace


 

 

joyful song

joyful song

Peace

Quiet yourself.

Reach out with your

mind’s skillful hand

Let it go inside of me

and touch

God.

Don’t be shy, dear.

Every aspect of Light

we are meant to know.

The calm hand holds

more

than baskets of goods

from the market.

The calm soul knows

more

than anything this

world

can offer from here

beautiful

womb

–By St. John of the Cross, taken from Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

St. John of the Cross has been long recognized as one of the world’s great mystical poets. His verse reveals a profound, tender experience of divine communion.

 

A heart of love

A heart of love

 

 

Sunflowers

Sunflowers