Speaking at the center based in the London School of Economics on Tuesday, Jolie spoke with conviction about the reason she had donated the money to open the center for victims of war rape — and the memory of her interactions with a thirteen-year-old girl who had been kidnapped and raped by ISIS and then had become an outcast from her village in war-torn Iraq.
“There is no stable future for a world in which crimes committed against women go unpunished; a world in which young girls are unable to reach their potential; where children see their mothers disrespected, violated and murdered; where it is considered acceptable for a husband to reject his wife and the mother of his children because she was raped, or normal for a woman to be forced to marry her rapist. What we have begun at LSE today is for that Iraqi girl and others like her, who pay the price for the culture of impunity for crimes against women, and our failure to prevent conflict.”
The center’s staff will look at the practical side of the problem of rape during war. This will include the best ways to prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence and how to help women rebuild communities and stay safe after conflicts, amid cultures where rape victims are frequently shunned and forced from their families and villages, or worse, killed. The center has decided to put women in conflict zones at the heart of decision-making, since often they have so little say in their fate; the hope is that the center may foster a sense of autonomy among the rape victims.
William Hague, a human rights activist who is helping Jolie with the project, said that the center was “about the enlargement of human freedom.” Jolie has said she hoped research done by the center would produce hard data on sexual violence in war and find ways to stop impunity for crimes that take place in war zones, according to Daily News.
Beginning this September, students will be able to study a module in Women, Peace and Security at LSE. Starting in 2016, students will be able to apply to study for a Master of Arts degree in the subject.
Jolie, a long time human rights activist, is adopting a son from Syria along with husband Brad Pitt; this will be the couple’s seventh child, most of them adopted from other countries.
Jolie and Hague hosted a global summit on sexual violence in conflict last year to press for the rights of victims.
[Photo via Getty]