'We are responsible': Angelina Jolie vows to end sexual violence

  • People
  • Wednesday, 11 Jun 2014

Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Secretary William Hague vowed to produce practical action from the world’s first summit on ending sexual violence in conflict.

Up to 1,200 government ministers, military and judicial officials and activists from up to 150 nations will attend the June 10 to 13 summit, intended as a call for action to protect women, children and men from rape and sex attacks in war zones.

Hague and Jolie, special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said the conference was the culmination of two years of work.

“It is a myth that rape is an inevitable part of conflict,” Oscar-winner Jolie said at the opening of a fringe event at the summit in London’s docklands. “It is a weapon of war aimed at civilians,” she added. “It is done to torture and humiliate people and often to very young children. And as an international community we are responsible for that.”

Angelina Jolie, actress and special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London. She spoke to reporters at the opening of the summit with William Hague (below, right), British Foreign Secretary, vowing to produce practical action to end sexual violence. — Reuters

Jolie’s involvement in humanitarian issues dates back to 2001 when she travelled to Sierra Leone as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and saw the impact of years of civil war when an estimated 60,000 women were raped.

In 2012, she joined forces with Hague to tackle sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations which led last year to a declaration now signed by about 150 countries pledging to end impunity and provide justice and safety for victims. “This whole subject has been taboo for far too long,” said Jolie, calling for the summit to be a turning point.

Hague said the meeting, to be attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry, would agree an international protocol on June 11 to push for international standards on recording and investigating sex crimes to bring more people to justice. “We want the summit to shatter the culture of impunity for sexual violence, to increase support for the survivors and change the situation on the ground for the most affected countries,” he said.

Practical ways to do this included strengthening laws so there were no safe havens for perpetrators, training armies and peacekeepers, and increasing funding to help survivors and protect women and children, he added.

The summit comes after a recent run of shocking cases of violence against women that was expected to raise the pressure on the world community for action rather than just promises. These have included the kidnapping of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls, the stoning to death of a pregnant woman in Pakistan in a so-called ‘honour killing’, and the gang rape and murder of two Indian teenagers who were hanged from a tree. – Reuters

* Produced to raise awareness on the subject of sexual violence in conflict, the animated video below may not be suitable for children below 16 years. 

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