Did you know that in Zimbabwe there is a well believed myth that by raping a girl who is a virgin a man can rid himself of AIDS/HIV? Babies as young as one day old have been raped by men who believe this twisted myth. My friend Michealene Cristini Risley exposes this little known atrocity in her upcoming film Tapestries of Hope. The real life heroine in the film is activist Betty Makoni who has drawn attention to this issue by founding The Girl Child Network to protect girls from further abuse and to help rehabilitate and empower them.
I had the honor of meeting Betty Makoni at the first screening of the film on Friday night. She is an angel here on Earth living her life to save others. Victims of sexual abuse themselves, Michealene and Betty team up to bring these crimes of rape out in the open and work to eradicate the myth and demand that lawmakers hold abusers accountable.
I highly recommend this film not only because my friend did a brilliant job directing it but because of this quote by Albert Einstein:
"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing."
Some facts on Zimbabwe that I didn't know:
"Put simply, people are dying of AIDS before they can starve to death" - 6
The situation in Zimbabwe is now so bad that:
- Between 2002 and 2006, the population is estimated to have decreased by four million people.7
- Infant mortality has doubled since 1990.8
- Average life expectancy for women, who are particularly affected by Zimbabwe's AIDS epidemic, is 34 - the lowest anywhere in the world.9 Officials from the World Health Organisation have admitted that since this figure is based on data collected two years ago, the real number may be as low as 30.10
- Zimbabwe has a higher number of orphans, in proportion to its population, than any other country in the world, according to UNICEF. Most of these cases are a result of parents dying from AIDS.11
Photo of Michealene Cristini Risley, Betty Makoni and Me at the first showing of the film.