SREBRENICA, Bosnia (Reuters) - Actress Angelina Jolie was brought to tears while talking to rape victims of the Bosnian war during a visit on Friday to promote a campaign to end sexual violence against women in war.
“There can be no peace while women in conflict or post-conflict zones are raped with impunity,” the Oscar-winning actress said in Sarajevo.
Jolie was accompanied by British Foreign Secretary William Hague, with whom she will co-host a global conference in London in June on preventing rape being used a tactic in war.
She said she hoped the initiative would help break down taboos about war rape.
Witnesses said Jolie cried while listening to victims in the town of Srebrenica.
“Our tradition is not to talk about the rape,” said Munira Subasic, the head of the association of Srebrenica mothers.
“Many women have been through it but don’t talk about it. That is why this visit is important, to show them they don’t have to cope with it alone,” Subasic said.
The initiative was partly inspired by Jolie’s film “In the Land of Blood and Honey”, which dealt with sexual violence inflicted on a woman during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.
Jolie and Hague also laid flowers at a cemetery for Bosnian Muslim victims of the Srebrenica massacre, Europe’s worst massacre since World War Two.
Bosnian Serb forces commanded by General Ratko Mladic killed around 8,000 Muslim men and boys after the U.N.-protected enclave fell in their hands in July 1995. Mladic is now on trial for genocide at the United Nations tribunal in The Hague.
More than 100,000 people, most of them civilians, were killed in the war between Bosnia’s Serbs, Muslim Bosniaks and Croats. It is believed that around 20,000 women were raped.
Additional reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic in Sarajevo; Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Angus MacSwan