By Chioma Obinna
As the 9th Assembly is set to begin, the Onome Akiololu Majaro Foundation, OAM, has charged the incoming members of the Assembly to revisit the Albinism Bill thrown out by the 8th Assembly to protect rights of persons living with albinism in Nigeria.
The Foundation noted that if the Albinism Bill is passed into law, it will address various human right abuses against them in the country.
Speaking in Lagos during the just-concluded training workshop on Albinism Advocacy and Human Rights in Senegal and organised by Open Society Initiative for West Africa, OSIWA, OAM Logistics Director, Mr. Ugochukwu Orji said people with albinism in Nigeria face emotional challenges ranging from stigma, discrimination and denial of education among others.
“We are urging government to address these issues by making a law that takes care of our people. Right now, there is no law like that.
In Nigeria, we don’t experience physical abuses like in East African countries but the basic abuse is the stigmatisation which is emotional and psychological etc.
“We are advocating for a law to protect people living with albinism. We are ready to rework on any grey area in the Bill.”
Orji further maintained that the government must recognise persons with albinism and put into consideration their peculiarities in terms of social integration and inclusiveness etc, when coming up with policies.
“Albinos in Nigeria also suffer human rights abuses in marriage as a result of their condition. Many communities write you off once you are an albino.
“Many children are denied education the moment their parents discover they don’t see very well. Take for instance, during elections, because of our problem of melamin, we are not supposed to stay under the sun, he added.
On Senegal training workshop, he explained that the objectives were to expose Non-Governmental Organisations that are into albinism advocacy on the different ways to tackle issues of abuse and how to further seek redress in the African Union should the host countries fail to address the issues properly.
“The 35 participants from different African countries were exposed to laws pertaining to children, women and persons with albinism. We were exposed to Compendium of key human rights document of the African Union and these laws address different aspects of human rights abuses in Africa.”
Speaking, Co-founder of OAM, Mrs. Onome Akinlolu Majaro who noted that June 13 was International Albinism Awareness Day, with the theme: Standing Strong, appealed to the Federal Government to insist on the right of the citizen to treat persons living with albinism well and with respect.
“I am appealing to persons living with albinism to please be patient, there’s a lot of misconception about albinism so just play your part; educate, enlighten, inform, continue to be the light and stay strong.
She further called on government at all levels to subsidise treatment for persons with albinism in the area of eye examinations, sunscreen which is very expensive.