People listened in “stunned silence” as a campaigner gave a harrowing talk about abuse in Zimbabwe.

Women’s activist Betty Makoni visited Borehamwood on Friday, July 12, to raise awareness about violence against babies and girls in the African country, where she grew up.

She told the packed audience at Fairway Hall, Brook Road, Borehamwood, about how virgins are raped by men who wrongly believe it will help cure their AIDS.

Other women are forced to undergo genital mutilation and can be subject to years of torture and physical abuse at the hands of their husbands and other men.

The event was organised by Elstree & Borehamwood Rotary Club, and members called the event “deeply important”.

Rotarian Barbara Kennedy said: “It was inspirational, moving and thought-provoking. People listened in stunned silence, many had no idea what goes on.

“Most people were shocked, but it is deeply important we spread the word about the level of abuse and what is happening in the world.”

The club managed to raise £1,000 for Girl Child Network, a charity founded by 42-year-old Ms Makoni herself to try to end violence against girls in Africa.

She also spoke about her own personal experiences growing up in Zimbabwe - she was gang raped at the age of six and her father beat her mother to death when she was eight months pregnant.

Mrs Kennedy added: “It wasn’t just an academic talk, she has lived the life and is trying to rescue as many girls as possible. I’m pleased with all the money we raised.

“I’d also like to thank all our sponsors for their help in making the event a success.”

Elstree & Borehawmood Town Council Mayor Clive Butchins also attended the event, which was supported by NSPCC campaigner and Borehamwood resident Dr Ann Goddard.