June 5, 2009
"Virgin Myth" Rape Survivors Find Refuge
Zimbabwean girls find protection from HIV-positive attackers through Girl Child Network (GCN), a refuge started by Betty Makoni, a rape survivor, to support victims of the “virgin myth” that raping a virgin female can cure someone of HIV/AIDS, CNN reports.
At the end of its first year, nearly a decade ago, 100 GCN clubs were available to Zimbabwean girls. “Every woman and girl identified with the issues that we were raising,” Makoni said. Today, there are currently 700 GCN clubs, and about 300,000 girls have been assisted.
Makoni also set up three empowerment villages in Zimbabwe, safe-havens for the girls. GCN girls are either rescued or referred to a village by social services, the police and the community.
Within the first three days of being at the shelter, refugees receive emergency medication and counseling and are reinstated in school. GCN also encourages girls to take charge of their own healing. Makoni said the process “gives them the confidence to transform from victims to leaders.”
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