Horrifically Bullied: British Pakistani Albino Family
‘We had dog poo on our doorstep, our windows were smashed, and we even once had fireworks pushed through the letterbox’ Albino family recall
A British Asian family with 15 albino members says they’ve faced abuse and discrimination throughout their lives – but insist their condition has brought them closer together.
Pakistan-born Aslam Parvez, 64, and wife Shameem, 65, both have oculocutaneous albinism – affecting pigmentation in the skin, hair, and eyes – a condition affecting eyesight.
Mother-of-three Naseem Akhtar, 42, from Exeter, Devon, who is the eldest child of Aslam and Shameem, said life was tough growing up because they were viewed as different and would be called ‘Pak* albinos’ – but now she says the family are proud of their identity.
‘As a family, we never fit into the community – we had dog poo on our doorstep, our windows were smashed, and we even once had fireworks pushed through the letterbox.’
‘Throughout our lives, my family have put up with a lot of bullying and discrimination for the way we look and who we are, as well as having to cope with sight loss.’
‘But now I’m proud of who we are – people will always have things to say, but you don’t have to listen.
She continued: ‘As kids, we would never be invited to birthday parties. We were always the last people to be picked for school sports teams because of our sight loss.
‘We were constantly rejected from groups – none of us really had any friends. People at school and in the street would refer to us as ‘P*ki albinos’ which was so offensive.’
She said her self-esteem and confidence plummeted and added, ‘Even at the mosque, within our own community, people would steal our shoes whenever we took them off to pray. I often walked home barefoot.’
Naseem, who is now married and has three children; Dylan, 11, Oliver, nine, and Grace, six, works in a sight loss rehabilitation service.
The family are awaiting confirmation from Guinness World Records but believe they have the largest number of albinos of any family anywhere in the world. There were 17 born with albinism, although two have since sadly died.
Says Naseem: ‘I applied for us to get in the Guinness Book of World Records because we are such a unique family and I do believe it’s something that should be marked in history.’
She hopes to educate others on the reality of life as an albino and inspire people to overcome their challenges.
‘I’ve always tried to promote positivity about albinism – even though we look very different and can’t see, doesn’t mean we’re less of a person or don’t have the right to have a good life’, said Naseem.
‘After so many years of being put down and feeling like you don’t fit in anywhere, it has a huge impact – but you have to learn to overcome negativity.
‘We have been through a lot of bad experiences, but we need to put the past behind us and ultimately we have come out as a family, stronger than ever. We can’t change who we are, so we should see it as a gift.’
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