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Priyanka Chopra dismayed by child sexual abuse in Zimbabwe


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 – The Washington Post May 6, 2017

JOHANNESBURG – Actress Priyanka Chopra says she is dismayed by the level
of sexual violence against children in Zimbabwe, with government officials
there telling her many young girls are "asking for it."

Chopra spoke to The Associated Press on Saturday after visiting the
southern African country as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador.

She said it was "an eye-opening experience" meeting girls who had been
shunned by society and thrown out of their homes after being raped. She
says girls are told it&;s their fault.

"I heard a lot of this when I asked these government officials who said
girls are asking for it," she said. Some girls were as young as 3 when
they were raped by their fathers, uncles or other relatives, she said.

One out of three children under 18 in Zimbabwe has suffered some form of
sexual violence, she said, calling that "staggering." In neighboring South
Africa it&39;s one out of five, she said.

Chopra, who turned heads with her sweeping Ralph Lauren trench coat at
Monday&39;s Met Gala in New York, said she feels it&39;s her duty to use her
celebrity status to fight for worthy causes, especially violence against
children.

"I am from India and I have seen wealth and poverty live together all my
life," she 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."

Once-prosperous Zimbabwe has sunk into economic crisis over the years,
with a cash crunch so severe that livestock in some cases is being
accepted in lieu of currency. Unemployment is high, and the health and
social services system has suffered.

Chopra, who stars in the upcoming "Baywatch" film, said she couldn&39;t get
one Zimbabwe girl&39;s story out of her mind.

The girl told Chopra how she was raped by her uncle when she was 7. "The
pastor of their church told her family that she was possessed and she
should come and live with him … but the pastor raped her for two years,"
Chopra said.

"She was taken away from there and sent to another uncle and aunty of
hers. The aunty then forced her to have sex with her husband, who was HIV
positive. That was how she contracted HIV at age 17." The girl tried to
kill herself three times before she was rescued by a group that offered
her psychological support, Chopra said.

The U.N. Population Fund calls Zimbabwe an "extremely young country," with
62 percent of the population under 25.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material
may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Original: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/celebrities/priyanka-chopra-dismayed-by-child-sexual-abuse-in-zimbabwe/2017/05/06/3ac58962-327b-11e7-a335-fa0ae1940305_story.html?utm_term=.a36d2455b339


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