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The Virgin Cure of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa

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Lara Niehues

on 16 October 2013

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Transcript of The Virgin Cure of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Virgin Cure of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa
Origin
The Virgin Cure Myth dates back to 16th century Europe where it was believed to cure syphilis, gonorrhea, and other STDs.
Girl Child Network Worldwide
"For the empowerment of the girl child and the end of all abuses impeding the full physical, mental, and spiritual growth and development of the child." -Betty Makoni
South Africa
Before 1998, there were 37,000 cases of rape and sexual assault reported in South Africa yearly.
WWII
At the close of WWII, men returned home to South Africa carrying multiple STD's and the notion of the Virgin Cure came with them.
A nine-month-old baby girl was raped by six men in a remote part of rural South Africa back in 2001.
Hope was a 14 year old girl who was raped and impregnated by her own uncle.
Betty was 6 years old when she was raped by a local shop keeper.

The intentions of these rapists was to cure themselves of HIV
At the close of 2001, an estimated 40 million people worldwide were living with HIV/AIDS, and more than 70 percent of these people [28.1 million] live in sub-Saharan Africa.
Between 1500 to 1700 new HIV/AIDS infections occur daily in South Africa alone.
Poverty, alcohol abuse, family instability, violence, and gender inequality are all prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa
The unfortunate result: The Virgin Cure
Traditional healers have been spreading the myth that "the blood produced by raping a virgin will cleanse the virus from the infected blood."
In 2001, that number

doubled.
However, it is speculated that this number does not accurately reflect the total number of cases
It is thought that only one in 35 rapes are actually reported
Why?
Fear of further harm by the rapist, sometimes even death.
Fear of being ostracized by their family or community
Fear of losing home and assets due to provider being imprisoned
However, of the cases reported only 10% go to trial and of those only a handful result in legal punishment
In 2002, the South African government made rape by an individual infected with HIV a capital crime, punishable by death
Betty Makoni
She was raped when she was just 6 years old by a shop keeper and told to stay silent by her own mother who was murdered by her father three years later
Her mission is to support and promote girls’ rights, empowerment, and education by reaching out to and advancing the circumstances of African girls who are economically deprived, at risk of abuse, subject to harmful cultural practices, or living in areas of instability.
In 2009, Betty was recognized as a CNN Hero of the Year
The organization was founded in 1998 when she sought to care for six young rape victims.
Today the GCN has over 700 girl clubs and three empowerment villages across Zimbabwe.
It is estimated that over 300,000 girls have been influenced by her organization with 35,000 who have had their lives saved by the extrication from their previously abusive circumstances and into care of the organization.
Empowerment Villages
Entire living facilities to which girls are referred by police or social workers
Provide resistance medicine to combat infectious diseases, enrollment in school, and counseling
Host "education plays" wherein the traditional healers are invited to watch a play depicting the harms associated with the Virgin Cure Myth
http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/06/04/cnnheroes.betty.makoni/index.html?eref=rss_topstories#cnnSTCVideo
Strengths
Weaknesses
Immediate action for victims
Remove girls from harmful and abusive situations
Holistic approach to healing the girls of all ages
Giving a voice to victims
Educating traditional healers through use of plays
Education for the victims
Inability to reach and educate all traditional healers who advocate the Virgin Cure
Trying to fix the men, rather than guiding the young boys to respect women and children
Recommendations
Create co-gender bonds in children
Target the men in the community to disband the Virgin Cure Myth, respect women, and promote familial values
Lara Niehues, Karla Rodriquez, Phillip Breslow
Full transcript