UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra has called for increased awareness and support for child victims of sexual violence.
“When I met these survivors, young brave women and children, and listened to their experiences, it just broke my heart,” said Chopra. “I will never forget their stories.”
Chopra’s first stop was in Chitungwiza, south of Harare, Zimbabwe, where she met a 13-year-old child who was repeatedly raped by an uncle and threatened if she revealed the abuse.
Poverty and a lack of opportunity are huge drivers of violence and leave young women and children in a position of vulnerability to predators. Additionally, most abuse occurs in situations when a child knows and trusts the adult who abuses him or her.
“As a society, it is on us to provide and take care of our children as citizens of the world, to educate children at a young age that it’s not OK to be inappropriately touched and that under-age sex can lead to unwanted teen pregnancy or HIV,” said Chopra.
Sexual violence against children is widespread in Zimbabwe. Latest available data shows that close to 1 in 10 girls aged 15-17 years old has been a victim of forced sexual intercourse or a forced sexual act. Approximately 2 in 3 victims were first abused by an intimate partner and approximately 1 in 10 by a stranger.
Photo courtesy: UNICEF