Angelina Jolie Leads Summit to End Sexual Violence
This week, Hollywood actress and mother Angelina Jolie joined British Foreign Secretary William Hague in leading the world's first summit on ending sexual violence in conflict. The conference aims to result in a practical plan of action to punish prepetrators and help victims heal.
The summit will run from June 10-13 and defines the first international step from Jolie and Hague, who have partnered to combat rape as a weapon of war. The conference is being highly publicized and has a hashtag, #TimetoAct, that is trending in the UK. US Secretary of State John Kerry, over 1,000 government ministers, military and judicial officials and activists from 150 nations are in attendance.
The summit comes after a series of violent incidents against women, like the shooting aimed at women at UCSB, the kidnapping of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls, the fatal beating of a Pakistani woman by her family, and the gang-rape and murder of two "lower-caste" Indian girls. Jolie opened the summit in London by insisting that political prioritized attention was necessary on a global level to combat sexual violence and its roots in the cultural treatment of women.
"It is a myth that rape is an inevitable part of conflict. It is a weapon of war aimed at civilians... done to torture and humiliate people and often to very young children," Jolie said. "We need to see real commitment and go after the worst perpetrators, to fund proper protection for vulnerable people, and to step in to help the worst-affected countries."
Jolie has been involved in humanitarian issues since 2001 when she went to Sierra Leone as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and noted the impact of civil war in which an estimated 60,000 women were raped. Her link-up with Hague was sparked by her 2011 directorial debut "In the Land of Blood and Honey" about the 1992 Bosnian war in which an estimated 20,000 women were raped.
The conference strives to demand international standards on recording and investigating sex crimes and focus on prosecuting more prepetrators. Other steps would include strengthening national laws in certain countries, training armies and peacekeepers, and increasing funds to help survivors.