This week I read what may be the most disturbing piece of news I’ve ever read. I’ve spent a good long while around radio and TV newsrooms and I’ve seen photos, video footage and news items so shocking that they made it into the psyches of those of us who witnessed them but they never made it to air. So my characterization of this item isn’t to be taken lightly. Sorry, I wish this was a set-up for a joke. It’s not. Read at your own risk.
In Zimbabwe, traditional healers advise young men with HIV or AIDS that they can cure themselves by raping a virgin. With the blessings of those whose advice they seek, these men rape young women and girls, sometimes relatives, sometimes infants, usually giving them AIDS in the process and, of course, not curing themselves at all. Thousands and thousands of girls have been victimized. The youngest known victim is a newborn. One girl became impregnated by her uncle who gave her AIDS, at the age of 14.
There is a bright light in this dark situation. A woman who had been raped by a local shopkeeper when she was just 6 decided to become an activist years later after her Mom was murdered by her Dad. Her Mom had advised her to keep quiet about her attack while she herself endured years of abuse at the hands of her husband. The girl came to the conclusion that silence was not a viable option. Now she has founded the GCN – Girl Child Network. She’s helping to keep girls in school and to get them trauma counselling if they’ve been victimized. Unfortunately there’s little erosion going on when it comes to the myth itself and this woman was persecuted to the point that she moved to the UK where she now lives.
Such grave harm brought against innocents for a purpose that isn’t even successful boggles my mind. I understand that there are rituals and beliefs in the world that I can’t fully grasp but this just reeks of pure, ignorant evil. It’s almost unimaginable that one woman was even brave enough to stand up against it and rally others to join in the cause. Her name is Betty Makoni and to me, she is a true heroine.