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Sunday 21 September 2014

Angelina dedicates summit to victim of war rape

Catherine Wylie

Published 11/06/2014 | 02:30

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Actress and special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Angelina Jolie, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague make their opening speeches at a global summit to end sexual violence in conflict, in London.  Reuters
Actress and special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Angelina Jolie, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague make their opening speeches at a global summit to end sexual violence in conflict, in London. Reuters
Actress and campaigner Angelina Jolie leaves 10 Downing Street with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague after a meeting in London. Reuters
Actress and campaigner Angelina Jolie leaves 10 Downing Street with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague after a meeting in London. Reuters

Actress and UN envoy Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Secretary William Hague yesterday opened a four-day international summit to focus attention on rape of women in war zones and conflict areas.

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The London summit aims to identify ways to better investigate and prosecute cases of sexual violence and provide support for victims.

Mr Hague called rape in war zones one of the "great mass crimes" of the last two centuries.

Ms Jolie said she wanted to dedicate the conference to a rape victim she and Mr Hague recently interviewed in Bosnia, who told them she felt so humiliated by what had happened to her she couldn't tell her child.

"She felt that having had no justice for her particular crime, in her particular situation, and having seen the actual man who raped her on the streets free, she really felt abandoned by the world," Ms Jolie said. "This day is for her."

"We need to treat this subject as a priority," she said. "This whole subject has been taboo for far too long. Warzone rape is a crime that thrives on silence and denial."

The actress, who has travelled extensively as a UN envoy dealing with refugee crises, said she has met with survivors in Afghanistan, Somalia and other conflict zones who have no place to turn for help.

"They live in refugee camps, on bombed-out streets, in areas where there is no law, no protection, and not even the hope of justice," she said.

The pair will launch an international protocol today to help strengthen prosecutions for rape in conflicts.

Mr Hague will tomorrow host a meeting focusing on Boko Haram, which will be attended by foreign ministers from Nigeria and neighbouring African countries.

The group's abduction of more than 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria has put attention on the issue of violence against women in conflict areas.

Irish Independent

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