UK: Angelina Jolie spearheads London summit against rape in war zones

11th Jun 2014
UK: Angelina Jolie spearheads London summit against rape in war zones

Actress Angelina Jolie has called for “real commitment” and “proper protection for vulnerable people” to bring an end to sexual violence in conflict zones. The four-day summit in London even attracted papal interest.

Angelina Jolie on Tuesday said she hoped for concrete results from a London summit aiming to combat rape and sexual violence, primarily in war zones.

“We must send a message around the world that there is no disgrace in being a survivor of sexual violence, that the shame is on the aggressor,” Jolie said, to cheers from the audience. “We need to shatter that culture of impunity.”

Jolie said it was a “myth” that r rape was inevitable in war.

“There is nothing inevitable about it. It is a weapon of war aimed at civilians … done to torture and humiliate people and often to very young people. It has nothing to do with sex, everything to do with power,” Jolie, a special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Hollywood star Jolie opened the four-day summit in London on Tuesday. The pair have worked together on the issue over the past two years, visiting survivors of sexual assault in Bosnia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

‘Power in numbers’

Hague said it was only a “weak or inadequate man” that abuses women, saying he hoped that a summit with 1,000 representatives from 117 countries could elicit action.

“There is power in numbers and if we unite behind this cause we can create an unstoppable momentum and consign this vile abuse to history,” Hague said, announcing that Britain would invest a further 6 million pounds (7.4 million euros, $10 million) for rape victims.

Even Pope Francis chimed in via the Twitter website, using the hashtag #TimeToAct in a message suggesting prayer for both victims of sexual abuse and those working to prevent it.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who will attend the conference’s last day on Friday, said delegates wanted “to relegate sexual violence to the annals of history.”

Just under 150 governments have endorsed a declaration of commitment to end sexual violence in conflict. Hague and Jolie are expected to launch an international protocol of proposals in London on Wednesday.

msh/lw (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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