Angelina Jolie, UK's Hague, vow action against sexual violence in war
By Belinda Goldsmith
LONDON (Reuters) - Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Secretary William Hague vowed on Tuesday to ensure the world's first summit on ending sexual violence in conflict resulted in practical action to punish those responsible and help victims.
Up to 1,200 government ministers, military and judicial officials and activists from up to 150 nations are attending the June 10-13 summit that is the result of a two-year partnership between Jolie and Hague to combat rape as a weapon of war.
The summit follows a series of violent incidents against women that was expected to raise pressure for action, including the kidnap of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls, the stoning of a pregnant Pakistani woman to death, and the gang-rape and murder of two Indian girls.
Opening the four-day summit in London's docklands, Jolie, special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said political will was needed globally to treat sexual violence as a priority and tackle a culture of impunity.
"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," she 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's involvement in humanitarian issues dates back to 2001 when she traveled 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.
Her link-up with Hague was sparked by her 2011 directorial debut "In the Land of Blood and Honey" that was set against the backdrop of the 1992-95 Bosnian war in which more than 100,000 people were killed and an estimated 20,000 women believed raped. Continued...