The Rwandan government has begun enforcing a ban on cosmetics products used for lightening or “bleaching” skin. The creams are being removed from shelves across the country as the government cracks down on the sale of the harmful cosmetic product.
Many observers however fear that the ban in Rwanda may encourage women to buy unregulated products which could put their health at risk
“We are now putting much effort, like educating people, going around and seizing those illegal products, so we are also joining those countries who are also in this fight of the use of those illegal sick lightening cosmetics,” said Director of Cancer unit of Rwanda’s Ministry of Health, Francois Uwinkindi, in an interview with Aljazeera.
African countries like Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa have also prohibited the sale of the creams, but like Rwanda, they struggle to come between willing buyers and smugglers.
The World Health Organization estimates that at least four in every 10 African women bleach their skin. Sales of the skin-whitening creams in African countries are estimated to be worth billions of dollars every year.