Angelina Jolie on rape in war: 'Our outrage does nothing. Sorrow and compassion are not enough'

Published 12 June 2014  |  
Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Foreign Secretary William Hague and Angelina Jolie at the 'End Sexual Violence in Conflict' summit in London

Survivors of sexual violence have had enough of words and sympathy, they want action. That was the message brought by Hollywood actor Angelina Jolie today at the world's largest ever gathering focusing on sexual violence in conflict.

"We are here for the man in Bosnia, still stigmatised years after his rape," said Jolie. "We are here for all the forgotten, hidden survivors."

Jolie, the Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, addressed representatives from more than 120 countries, urging them to take action to eradicate war zone rape. "Sorrow and compassion are not enough," she said. "Our outrage does nothing for the woman abused."

Jolie said that if it was someone we loved we would have compassion and act to help them, and that we should "apply that protective instinct to the world's most vulnerable people."

"There are many crimes, abuses of all forms, that we must fight together," she added. "But let us begin here."

William Hague, who is co-hosting the four-day Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict with Jolie, described war zone rape as a "scourge" and an "appalling crime". "Rape in war is not some lesser crime," he said. "We must ensure the right laws are in place to hold the perpetrators of these crimes to account. Now the time has come to act."

On Wednesday, Hague and Jolie launched an international protocol to end impunity for the perpetrators of war zone rape. The new protocol, which is the first of its kind, aims to increase the number of prosecutions for sexual violence worldwide by setting an international standard for investigating and documenting these crimes.

"Our response must never again be that these things simply happen," said Jolie. "Or that peace is more important than justice."

The 'unsung heroism' or survivors of sexual violence who have gone on to transform their communities was also praised by Jolie and Hague. Some of these heroes shared their horrific stories of war zone rape and inspired audiences with their courage to speak out during the summit at the ExCel Centre in London.

The global summit has gathered together hundreds of foreign ministers, experts, NGOs, survivors of sexual violence and representatives from conflict-affected countries with the goals of shattering the culture of impunity, taking practical steps to reduce the danger to women in conflict zones and increasing support for survivors. The summit marks the two-year anniversary of Jolie and Hague's Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence.

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