Jolie launches fight against war rape
Hollywood star Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Secretary William Hague yesterday launched a four-day summit on ending rape in war, calling for an end to the "culture of impunity" and more prosecutions.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who will attend the conference in London on Friday, said the delegates from 117 countries wanted to "relegate sexual violence to the annals of history".
The summit is the fruit of a two-year campaign by UN special envoy Jolie and Hague, who have visited the Democratic Republic of Congo and Bosnia to meet victims of rape during conflict.
As she opened the conference, Jolie said she and Hague had discussed a woman they met in Bosnia, who was still too ashamed to tell her son that she had been raped.
"This day is for her," said Jolie. "We believe it truly is a summit like no other."
Standing next to her, Hague told reporters: "This will be the greatest concentration of effort, of discussion and decision ever seen in combating sexual violence in conflict."
The conference, held at a vast conference centre, includes 150 events open to the public in what the organisers hope will be a giant exercise in raising awareness.
Almost 150 governments have endorsed a declaration of commitment to end sexual violence in conflict.
Organisers also want to increase and improve the documentation of rape in warzones to allow more prosecutions to be brought.
Liesl Gerntholtz, of Human Rights Watch, told AFP that while most victims were women and girls, "there's an emerging body of research and documentation that certainly shows that men have been targeted".
Hague has said it was Jolie's film "In the Land of Blood and Honey" that alerted him to the extent of sexual violence in conflict zones.
The 2011 film, which marked Jolie's directorial debut, is a love story told against the backdrop of the Bosnian war two decades ago, when according to Hague some 50,000 women were raped.