‘Most concerning situation is when the child is abused by the adults who they trusted’
Harare: Priyanka Chopra has been the ambassador since December last year and a United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) India Ambassador for 10 years.
She visited Zimbabwe this week where she met child survivors of sexual violence and heard their harrowing stories. The Quantico star spoke about sexual violence against children happening in Zimbabwe.
UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra has called for an increased support for such children. She raised awareness that underage sex can lead to unwanted teen pregnancy or HIV.
“No woman, and most definitely no child, should ever have to experience sexual violence – especially from someone they trust for protection, such as a family member,” she said.
Chopra’s first met a 13-year-old girl in Chitungwiza, south of Harare, Zimbabwe, where she who was repeatedly raped by her uncle and threatened her if she revealed the abuse. The victim had become pregnant but with the help of her mother and neighbours, the incident was reported to the police and the uncle who abused her was arrested, tried, and jailed for 10 years.
“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,” Chopra said.
Chopra, 34, also visited ‘Child line Zimbabwe’, the country’s 24-hour service for sexually abused children.
With 25 community-based drop-in centres throughout the country, child line provides free, confidential, multilingual counselling to children aged 18 years and under.
“I was astonished by the numbers of calls that were coming in during the brief time I was there,” she said.
“The counsellors, all volunteers, told me that many calls come from children in hysterics because they had been raped or abused. They were so scared,” she added.
‘One in 10 girls aged 15-17 years old have been a victims of forced sexual intercourse or a forced sexual act in Zimbabwe,’ UNICEF statistics say.
Approximately two-thirds of victims were first abused by an intimate partner and about a tenth of the victims by a stranger.
Most concerning is that in the case of children, most abuse occurred in situations when the child knew and trusted the adult who abused him or her.