Angelina Jolie: ‘Rape In War Zones Must End,’ Leads Global Summit To End Sexual Violence

Angelina Jolie marked the culmination of a two-year effort by giving the opening address at a four-day international summit aimed at ending the continuing rape of women — and men — during wartime. Jolie, who, in addition to her position as Hollywood’s leading female star, is special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees, worked since 2012 with U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague to put together the anti-rape summit, which runs in London from Tuesday to Friday.

“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 in her opening address. “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 said that the stigma of being a survivor of rape must be lifted. She and Hague recalled meeting a Bosnian woman raped during the Bosian war, which ended in 1995. But the woman, Jolie said, remained ashamed to tell her own son that she was a rape survivor.

“This day is for her,” Angelina Jolie told the summit. “We believe it truly is a summit like no other.”

Hague called the conference, titled the “Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict,” “the greatest concentration of effort, of discussion and decision ever seen in combating sexual violence in conflict.”

The idea to convene the summit came when Jolie directed the film In The Land Of Blood And Honey, a love story set against the Bosnian war in which, according to Hague, approximately 50,000 women were raped.

“We need to shatter that culture of impunity and make justice the norm, not the exception, for these crimes,” Jolie said. “We need political will, replicated across the world, and we need to treat this subject as a priority.”

Representatives from more than 100 countries are expected to take part on the four day summit, including United States Secretary of State John Kerry, who in a statement called the purpose of the summit, “to relegate sexual violence to the annals of history.”

Angelina Jolie first became involved in the issue of wartime rape during a trip to Sierra Leone in 2001, where 60,000 women were raped during a prolonged civil war there.