Rwandan government enforces ban on skin-whitening products

African Union chairperson Paul Kagame delivers a keynote address on Wednesday at the 10th Extraordinary Summit which considers the legal instruments of signing and launching the African Continental Free Trade Area treaty in Kigali. Picture: Twitter

African Union chairperson Paul Kagame delivers a keynote address on Wednesday at the 10th Extraordinary Summit which considers the legal instruments of signing and launching the African Continental Free Trade Area treaty in Kigali. Picture: Twitter

There are fears the ban could drive women to buy unregulated products which could be a risk to their health.

The Rwandan government has enforced a ban on skin-whitening products which are being removed from shelves in stores across the country, Aljazeera reports.

Sales of these products are reported to be in the billions annually in African countries.

It was reported that there are those who fear that the ban could drive women to buy unregulated products which could be a risk to their health.

The ban was reportedly officially enforced in November last year, with the Rwandan government in the past two months removing the products from shelves in stores across the country.

The country’s president, Paul Kagame, tweeted last year that the products are “quite unhealthy” and include prohibited chemicals.

Al Jazeera reported that Rwanda’s ban follows in the steps of other African countries including South Africa, Kenya, and Ghana.

KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo in 2016 issued a warning on the dangers of skin-bleaching products in the province.

Dhlomo urged people to avoid using dangerous skin-lightening and bleaching products.

In a statement, the MEC said such products could cause skin cancer and even premature death.

Dhlomo said over a long period of time people, especially among the African and Indian groups, had been blemished and disfigured by the products.

“Wrong notions were being promoted to the effect that to be black, especially if you were particularly dark, was loaded with negative stereotypes. Several products promising miraculous transformations were then manufactured and marketed specifically to the black community.

“Consequently many black women and black men have mutilated their bodies and have even died because they used products containing harsh chemicals that promised peace of mind in a bottle.”

The department of health later officially launched an anti-skin lightening and bleaching campaign.

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