An albino toddler who went missing in Tanzania was found dismembered, and police say they believe the gruesome death is linked to witchcraft rituals.
One-year-old Yohana Bahati, who has albinism, was kidnapped from his home in the Geita region of northwestern Tanzania by an armed gang Sunday, Reuters reported.
His body was found in a Tanzanian forest with the arms and legs cut off, Sky News reported Thursday. Police say the limbs could possibly have been used for witchcraft rituals. Witch doctors believe the body parts of albino people — who lack pigment in their skin, hair or eyes — can bring about wealth and good luck when used in spells, the outlet notes.
According to a 2009 United Nations report, senior police officers in Tanzania’s largest city, Dar es-Salaam, reported that “a complete set of albino body parts – including all four limbs, genitals, ears, tongue and nose – was fetching the equivalent of 75,000 US dollars.”
Throughout the last 10 years, at least 70 people with albinism have been killed in Tanzania, per Sky News. In January, the Tanzanian government put forth a ban on witch doctors in order to curtail attacks against people with albinism. Activists are now calling for a stricter enforcement of the ban.
“There’s absolutely no political will among leaders to end these macabre killings … what is so special with these (traditional) healers to the extent that our leaders ignore albino killings?” Vicky Ntetema, the executive director of Under The Same Sun, a group that works with albinos, told Reuters.
Albino people can be viewed as sub-human in Tanzania and other countries.
“If you have this condition you are someone who is like a ghost,” Josephat Torner, an albino man and activist from Tanzania, told Vice News. “It means you are not really a human being. So that’s why if you are born with this different color, like what I have now, it’s really an issue. For example, when I was born, my mother was advised to poison me, because at that time it was like a curse. You know? It was like a shame.