How did you come to tell this important story?
I've been in the business for 14 years, working my way up from researcher to producer. I spent many years at NBC, working on programs with Maria Shriver, Tom Brokaw, Forrest Sawyer and produced the special WITNESS TO THE EXECUTION. I applied for a Pew Fellowship, which is for mid-career journalists. You have to pitch a foreign news story that is not being reported in the U.S. I really wanted to do an AIDS piece it's the most important story in the whole world. So I started doing research and saw the statistics that young women were getting AIDS at the fastest rate of all and I wanted to understand why. It turned out that a lot of that had to do with rape.
Can you put your finger on the reason behind the rise in child rape?
I went to South Africa in the fall and the whole issue erupted. While I was there the story of a baby who had been raped hit the headlines.
I thought I could go and find the answer but there are so many reasons: poverty, lack of access to adequate health care and education, splintered families, men's low sense of self-worth. For many, there is little to hope for: People are frightened, dying, they are burying their families. It seems violence is sometimes an opportunity to have a little bit of power.What about "The Myth" that having sex with a virgin can cure AIDS?
Well, I've never known what it's like to be so desperate, so sick they must be on a different plane. But we have to remember that this myth isn't exclusive to South Africa it's in many places. And it's throughout history it used to be thought to cure syphilis. All the people church, community leaders, government, sangomas (faith healers) need to get on the same page about this and address it head-on.