13 June: International Albinism Awareness Day
The International Albinism Awareness Day was observed on 13 June 2017 with an aim to end multiple forms of discrimination that is faced by people who suffers from albinism.
Albinism results in a lack of pigmentation (melanin) in the hair, skin and eyes, causing vulnerability to the sun and bright light. As a result, almost all people with albinism are visually impaired and are prone to developing skin cancer. There is no cure for the absence of melanin that is central to albinism.
Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited difference present at birth and it is still profoundly misunderstood, socially and medically. In almost all types of albinism, both parents must carry the gene for it to be passed on, even if they do not have albinism themselves. The condition is found in both sexes regardless of ethnicity and in all countries of the world.
The physical appearance of persons with albinism is often the object of erroneous beliefs and myths influenced by superstition, which fosters their marginalisation and social exclusion. This leads to various forms of stigma and discrimination.
According to United Nations (UN), in some communities, erroneous beliefs and myths, which are heavily influenced by superstition, put the security and lives of persons with albinism at constant risk. These beliefs and myths are centuries old and are present in cultural attitudes and practices around the world.
The UN General Assembly on 18 December 2014 adopted a resolution that proclaimed that 13 June will be observed as International Albinism Awareness Day. The first Albinism Day was observed on 13 June 2015.
In 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling for the prevention of attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism. Moreover, in response to the call from civil society organisations advocating considering persons with albinism as a specific group with particular needs that require special attention, on 26 March 2015, the Council created the mandate of Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism.
Later in January 2016, Ikponwosa Ero, United Nations Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights of Persons with Albinism submitted her first report on albinism to the UN Human Rights Council. Adding to the information contained in the July 2016 report to the General Assembly, the latest report was presented to the Human Rights Council in 2017 and included a focus on witchcraft as a key root cause of attacks against persons with albinism.
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