Chopra dismayed by assault in Zimbabwe
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’s one out of five, she said.
“I am from India and I have seen wealth and poverty live together all my life,” Chopra 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.
Chopra, who stars in the upcoming “Baywatch” film, said she couldn’t get one Zimbabwe girl’s story out of her mind. The girl told Chopra how she was raped by her uncle when she was seven. “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. AP