“Albinos don’t die—they only disappear.”

This phrase has never made as much sense as it does now. Some say it is the fault of local healers or the organ trafficking mafia. But the truth is that the lack of information is the main culprit of the crimes. People believe in the prophecy that says that if you have a piece of an albino (usually their hands, feet or head), you’ll have luck or money in life.

Since the end of 2014, the albinos of Mozambique and Malawi have suffered kidnappings, murders, vandalized graves and a lot of discrimination. It all started in the country that borders the two countries: Tanzania. There it is known that people with albinism have suffered greatly. Soon after, cases started in Mozambique and Malawi. The Tanzanian government has conducted outreach operations that helped reduce the problems, but on the other hand, they increased the persecution of albinos in neighboring countries.

In one of the local languages, albinos are outright called “money,” or “bolada.” In Mozambique, dozens of cases have been reported in the last two years, and the problems have progressed all over the country. In Malawi, there have already been more than 100 cases reported since January 2015. The country has about 4,000 albinos. Mozambique has one albino for every 16,000 inhabitants and has reported about 50 cases.

Official data provided by the government indicates that since 2015, some 47 albinos have been the targets of attacks in Mozambique. Governments in these countries have undertaken public service campaigns to inform the public that albino body parts have no special or medicinal properties. And law enforcement has tried to be extra sensitive towards the issue. Even so, the road to change is a long one.

—Daniel Rodrigues

Editor’s Note: Rodrigues’s project was recognized by the jury of the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2017—don’t miss the work from all 44 of the outstanding, international talents! You can follow Rodrigues’s work on his personal website.

If you’re interested in seeing more work on this topic, we’d recommend the following articles: Jeweled, Justine Tjallinks’ celebration of the beauty of Albinos; In/Visibility, a series on the people with albinism living in Tanzania; and A Different Look, a project that seeks to counter international stereotypes and celebrate the unique beauty inherent in the condition.