SEATTLE — Actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra traveled to Zimbabwe to visit victims of sexual violence, young girls whom government officials claim are “asking for it.” Zimbabwe’s sexual violence has taken a toll on thousands of young girls who feel too powerless to defend themselves.
Chopra called it an “eye-opening experience” to meet girls shunned by their families and society. Young girls, some as young as three, were raped by their fathers, uncles or other relatives.
Chopra used social media to call attention to the serious crimes and issues these children face daily, posting photos on Instagram to help the public understand the issue’s severity by using hashtags such as #ThisTimeForAfrica, #PeaceLoveHope and #foreverychild.
“We are here in Harare Zimbabwe … as part of our efforts to #EndViolence against Children,” reported Chopra on Instagram. She added, “I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the opportunity to meet the courageous young survivors, their amazing caregivers and the teams that wake up every day and try to make the world a better place … one child at a time.”
The experiences of the young women and children she met devastated her and left indelible memories. She met a 13-year-old girl named Alice whose uncle repeatedly raped and threatened her. Revelations of the abuse surfaced after a relative saw condoms in her bedroom, but by then she was pregnant.
As the result of an economic downturn, Zimbabwe’s sexual violence has skyrocketed. The once-prosperous country in the south of Africa is a destination for men, women and children who are subject to sex trafficking and sexual violence. Others are lured into the life of prostitution and forced labor.
“I am from India and I have seen wealth and poverty live together all my life,” Chopra said. “That is the state of the world. That is our reality. It takes people like us who are privileged, who have everything that we may need in abundance, to be able to share it in parts of the world where they may not have that.”
– Mary Waller