Angelina Jolie and British foreign secretary William Hague have joined forces to raise awareness about the global epidemic of sexualized violence in war zones. The duo have been working together since May 2012 on a campaign which aims to end impunity for rapists "with projects ranging from shaming public officials into action to funding women's clinics and dispatching forensic experts to the Syrian borders, Libya, Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)."
Jolie, the special envoy to the U.N.'s refugee agency, says that she aims to send a message of hope to survivors of violence:
"I would like them to know they are not alone and that violence against them is something the world will no longer stand for and it's not something they are expected to simply tolerate. I think they have been expected to do so and I think people have come to see rape in war as something that just happens, that is a part of war. We will no longer simply stand idly by."
Foreign Secretary Hague used this opportunity to announce his intention of making sexualized violence a main talking point at the upcoming G8 summit in London this April. He says:
"Sexual violence in conflict has to be resolved if conflicts are to be resolved because when rape is used as a weapon of war, it makes communities harder, to bring together and much harder for people to get on with their lives afterwards,"
When asked why he chose to be involved in the global anti-rape campaign, he explained that speaking out against injustices affecting women is part of his role as a politician.
"What is the point of politics if you don't address such issues and, if your position in the world enables you to see and understand the sheer extent of the horror, then you have a responsibility to do something about it."
Angelina Jolie and Jesús Vázquez via UNHCR/ A. Serrano
In her directorial debut last year with the movie Land of Blood and Honey, Jolie began exposing the atrocities committed against women during the Bosnian war. She was shocked when she learned that out of the 50,000 cases of rape during the conflict, only 30 ended in convictions. She hopes her campaign can make a lasting difference for women around the world.
"The hope and dream is that the next time this happens, that somehow, during a crisis, during a war, it's known that if you abuse the women, if you rape the women, you will be held accountable for your actions."
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