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MEET MONICA MUNGA THE ONLY ZAMBIAN AT THE 2020 PARALYMPICS

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As far as inspirational stories go; Monica Munga, is certainly amongst the top inspirational women I have ever come across in Zambia. As a visually impaired albino from Chipata Zambia, Monica was the only Para athlete representative for Zambia at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. She joined the national team in 2012 and this was her first Paralympic Games experience where she competed in the 400m race. She became the fourth Paralympian to represent Zambia at the Paralympics and the only representative Zambia had this year. Monica’s hope is that her participation will encourage others in Zambia to take part in future competitions.

“I would be happy to have more athletes with disabilities,” she told Tokyo 2020.

To travel to a tournament with four or five others and not alone. Then people can also say Zambia has produced athletes living with albinism. There are many but there is fear.”

The 22 year old is not the only athlete in the family, she has followed in her mothers footsteps, who happens to be a retired provincial foot sprinter.

The Paralympics demonstrate immense strength of character and courage to defeat mental and physical impediments. Paralympics are inspirational because they demonstrate that impossibilities can be possible. The Paralympics also build awareness of mental and physical disabilities in the hope of creating a better life for those with frailties.

Due to the stigma that follows Albinism, Monica fears for her safety whenever she is out of her home, especially during night time. Her sprint training is always supervised by her mother or her coach. As an albino, she is a target for people who believe that using her body parts in magic potions and witchcraft can bring good luck and wealth.

When I am moving, I need to move carefully, I don’t move during the night. I’m afraid because when it’s dark, and they attack you, no one can see you. Our skin and other (body) parts can be used for rituals.”

Her focus and determination caught the attention of Airbloom Media. Who created an inspirational TV Series “Against All Odds” which is set on shifting misconceptions and stigma around disabled people in Africa whilst bringing to the fore inspirational and deeply moving stories such as Monica’s. A stand alone episode will be dedicated to Zambia and her story.

Albinism is still profoundly misunderstood, socially and medically. The physical appearance of persons with albinism is often the object of erroneous beliefs and myths influenced by superstition, which foster their marginalization and social exclusion. This leads to various forms of stigma and discrimination.

The worst expression of discrimination against persons with albinism is their dehumanization, which lays the foundation for horrifying physical attacks against them. Some believe that they are magical beings or ghosts, they mutilate or even kill them so their body parts can be used for witchcraft rituals.

These attacks claim many lives and surviving victims and their families experience severe trauma. Persons with albinism deserve to have their rights to life and security protected, as well as the right not to be subjected to torture and ill-treatment. Education and awareness-raising campaigns can help combat superstition and stigma associated with albinism.

United Nations Human Rights Council passed several resolutions from 2013 onwards, condemning the attacks and highlighting the discrimination that has led to the attacks. Further, in 2013 the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted an important resolutions in 2013, listing steps that implicated states should take to protect persons with albinism.

For more information you can visit The United Nations human rights council website https://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/hrc/pages/aboutcouncil.aspx

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