October 1st, 2009
04:05 PM ET

CNN Hero: Betty Makoni

Program Note: CNN Heroes received nearly 9,000 submissions from 100 countries. A Blue Ribbon Panel selected the Top 10 CNN Heroes for the year, and over 1 million of you voted for your CNN HERO OF THE YEAR

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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/LIVING/06/04/cnnheroes.betty.makoni/art.betty.makoni.cnn.jpg caption="Betty Makoni founded the Girl Child Network to help Zimbabwe's young sexual abuse victims."]

CNN Heroes

Hope was 14 years old when her uncle raped her.

"He trapped me to the ground and covered my mouth with his hand," said the 18-year-old from Zimbabwe. "He threatened to kill me if I ever told anybody."

So, she kept quiet.

"After a while people around the villages started saying that I looked pregnant," she said.

Hope was not only pregnant, but her uncle had infected her with HIV.

Like many young girls in Zimbabwe, Hope was the victim of a widely held belief that if a man with HIV or AIDS rapes a virgin he will be cured of his disease. This so-called virgin myth, perpetuated by Zimbabwe's traditional healers, has led to the rape of hundreds of girls, according to UNICEF. Some of those victims are too young to walk, much less protect themselves.

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To learn about ways you can make a difference, visit Impact Your World.

Filed under: CNN Heroes • Impact Your World
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Molly Kaminski

    I would like to vote for Betty Makoni for her rescuing the young girls being abused.

    October 22, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
  2. Sue Elliott

    I would like to vote for Betty Makoni, of Zimbabwe for her work with young girls. Please send my vote .

    October 26, 2009 at 5:23 pm |

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