Friday, December 3, 2021

Parliament fails albinos – activist

Albinism society of Botswana has indicated that the albinism society has continued to experience challenges.

This was said by the Chairman of the Albinism society of Botswana Seargent Kgosietsile on Sunday when celebrating International albinism awareness day.

Kgosietsile said albinism society is still left behind on many issues, adding that Parliament has failed over the years to ensure their inclusivity.

“Albinism Society of Botswana, resolves that the parliament of the Republic of Botswana is should review and amend the constitution of the Republic of Botswana, for the enshrinement of second and third generation of human rights for the better socio-economic and political development of the people of Botswana” 

Kgosietsile said people with Albinism often face discrimination and ridicule within their own families and communities.

In some parts of southern and eastern Africa, body parts of those living with Albinism are believed to hold magical powers, and so they are hunted and killed by “Albino hunters”. Attacks have been reported in Tanzania, Burundi and Malawi. 

Kgosietsiele believes people with albinism should enjoy all rights and all the possibilities that lead to a meaningful life like anybody else, be it on a professional level or in private and family life.

“The majority of people with albinism are desperately poor and isolated from mainstream community activities and lack the most basic needs that are enjoyed by other PLWDs,” he said.

He complained that the delay by government to ratify the decade old United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was making matters worse. 

“The review of the 1996 National Disability Policy is yet to be decided by Parliament and it has taken long,” he said.

We want to reclaim our rightful place in the mainstream society as productive members of the society, and hopefully the stigma associated with albinism will dissipate,” he said. 

Although government extends certain specific services to people with albinism such as provision of sunscreen cream through the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Kgosietsile said a lot still needed to be done to ensure protection of their members as their life expectancy was in most cases shortened by skin cancer.

In 2017, The Albinism society petitioned government to address their concerns signed by 58 members of the Albinism Society of Botswana. It emphasised that people with albinism had always suffered in Botswana as their condition was not recognised as a disability.

They said the situation was worsened by the failure by government to domesticate the UN Convention of the Rights of People Living with Disabilities.

The petition said because Botswana served people living with disability through policies which do not constitute Acts of Parliament, such policies could not be enforced in courts of law to meet the legal expectations of people living with disabilities.

“While we acknowledge that significant strides have been made to address the needs of persons with disabilities, a lot more needs to be done,” he said.

Having a legislation specific to people with disabilities in place will be a good starting point,” the society states in the document, emphasising the need to have a piece of legislation tailored towards finding a solution to issues as the right to dignity and self-worth, as well as equal and inalienable rights.

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