Mr Olumide Dosumu, Edo State Coordinator, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), says believe in traditional myth is responsible for the increased reported cases of sexual attacks on women and girls with albinism.
Dosumu stated this on Saturday during his lecture at the sensitisation workshop for women and girls with albinism and mothers of children with albinism on Human Rights and Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Benin.
Dosumu described albinism as a non-contiguous genetic condition that causes little or lack of melanin pigmentation (colour) in the skin, hair and eyes.
The workshop was organised by the Initiative for Advancement of the Albinism Cause (INAAC) with support from the Nigerian Women Trust Fund.
The human rights actor explained that one of the myths was that having sexual intercourse with women with albinism could cure HIV/AIDs.
He attributed this misconception to the rising cases of rape against women with albinism in some communities today.
“It is unfortunate that this has led to the infection of many women with albinism, thereby deteriorating their health condition and psychosexual feeling.
“Sexual based violence against them makes the case a double tragedy,” he said.
Persons with albinism, the NHRC boss said, were susceptible to killing for ritual because of the myth that they were potent tool.
He regretted that these vulnerable persons suffered discrimination in the society in spite of the abundant laws and documents that guaranteed their rights in the society.
“Women and girls with albinism have equal rights and opportunities opened to them just like any other citizen.
“There must be assertiveness in demanding for their rights and inclusiveness; there must be well groomed knowledge on issue content of GBV.
“Persons with albinism must see themselves as human beings and citizens because the Nigerian constitution has guaranteed their rights,” said the lecturer.
Similarly, Mrs Agatha Isieke, Executive Director, Women, Youths and Children Advancement Programme, identified society’s attitude towards practices of gender discrimination as the root cause of GBV.
She said understanding these contributory factors would help expose necessary steps to take in addressing the menace.
Earlier in her address of welcome, Miss Joy Odigie, Executive Director, INAAC, said the workshop aimed to create awareness about the plight of people with albinism, especially women, girls, and mothers.
This, Odigie said would equip them with knowledge and skills on how to deal with the challenges were faced with, especially those fueling GBV.
“Women and girls with albinism, especially mothers of children with albinism, face numerous challenges and risk becoming victims of gender-based violence.
“Such women suffer not only from discrimination and stigmatisation, but also face physical and emotional abuse, sometimes leading to loss of life.
“This workshop is therefore organised to ensure equality and inclusion of women and girls with albinism as well as mothers of children with albinism, to protect their human rights and prevent gender-based violence,” she said.