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Student documentary premieres Nov. 14

November 13, 2006

Source: University of Toronto

Girl Child a fundraiser to fight child abuse and HIV/AIDS in ZimbabweNov 13/06by Jane Kidner

Girl Child, a documentary made by five U of T students, premieres Nov. 14 at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto. Doors will be open at 7:00 p.m.

The film documents the sexual exploitation of young girls in Zimbabwe through forced marriage and rape and how it perpetuates the spread of HIV/AIDS. Young girls in Zimbabwe are routinely raped, molested and sold into marriage and as a result more than 60 per cent aged 15 to 25 are HIV-positive. Only 10 per cent of young boys in the same age category are HIV positive.

The 30-minute documentary was filmed and produced by U of T law student Jared Kelly, with the assistance of law students Tara Doolan, Robyn Switzer and Graeme Hamilton and U of T medical student, Shanna Spring. It centres on the work of Girl Child Network, a non-governmental organization in Zimbabwe led by Betty Makoni, winner of the inaugural Red Ribbon Award at the 2006 International Aids Conference.

Makoni has dedicated her life to empowering and educating young girls throughout Zimbabwe and physically rescuing those who have fallen victim to sexual abuse. Her work is recognized throughout Africa as an important catalyst to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS.

"Betty Makoni is a force of nature," says Kelly, "she is a true heroine to thousands of girls across Zimbabwe and her conviction and drive have deeply moved me and motivated all of us into action."

Kelly spent eight weeks in Africa this summer as part of the Faculty of Law’s international human rights program (IHRP) and as a volunteer with LIFT (Legal Initiatives for Tomorrow), a student program at the law school, funded by IHRP and private donations. IHRP sends approximately 25 students each summer to international human rights organizations in developing countries around the world to provide legal and social assistance where needed.

"There is no greater threat to human dignity and quality of life than the AIDS pandemic," says acting director Sarah Perkins. "We are proud that U of T law students are engaged in these critical issues and have produced a documentary film that will raise awareness about the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS and what our country can do to help."

The film premiere and fundraiser Nov. 14, which will also feature an art exhibit and auction supported by ZimArt, hopes to raise $20,000 in support of Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe. Contact LIFT at for more information.



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