There is a growing and alarming trend in Africa of women trying to bleach their skin white to appear “European”. As usual, it is the poorer ones who suffer most, since because they cannot afford the more expensive cosmetic products, more dangerous creams are used, some of which greatly increase the risk of cancer. The main danger is the chemical called hydroquinon, which damages the skin and significantly increases the incidence of skin cancer in later years, particularly after exposure to the sun. In Saharan countries, the colour of the skin is connected to social status. The whiter the skin, the higher the social class. Women who do not whiten their skin are insulted and discriminated against. This practice is connected to the ancient notion of Master and Slave. Exposure to Western cultures has heightened the notion of black/white, failure/success. The figures are staggering. According to one report from the BBC, 50% of the women in Mali are trying to bleach their skin, but the phenomenon is also taking place in the United States of America. In New York recently, a small Negro boy was found bleeding in the bath as he was rubbing his legs with a hard brush. When questioned what he was doing, he said :”I am trying not to be dirty”. No comment.
TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY, PRAVDA.RU, LISBON
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