Angelina Jolie’s impassioned words moved the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution Monday that would punish perpetrators of rape in war. The resolution demanded “the complete and immediate cessation of sexual violence in armed conflicts.”
The movie star serves as special envoy of UN High Commissioner for Refugees. She addressed the 15-member.panel with a prepared speech and urged members to adopt a resolution that would punish the perpetrators of sexual violence during conflict and protect the victims of the crime.
The 38-year old movie star began her speech by saying, “Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of women, children, and men have been raped in conflicts in our lifetimes.”
She urged the Security Council to bear its responsibility and provide leadership in the matter. She went on to say these sexual climates committed in conflict zones occur “not because they are inherent to war, but because the global climate allows it.”
She emphasized to the Security Council the urgency of the matter.
“Young girls raped and impregnated before their bodies are able to carry a child, causing fistula. Boys held at gunpoint and forced to sexually assault their mothers and sisters. Women raped with bottles, wood branches and knives to cause as much damage as possible. Toddlers and even babies dragged from their homes, and violated.”
She said if the Security Council did not take action, the “horror would continue. “You set the bar. If the council sets rape and sexual violence in conflict as a priority it will become one and progress will be made. If you do not, this horror will continue.
She pleaded with members to meet their commitments. “Debate this issue in your parliaments, mobilize people in your countries, and build it into all your foreign policy efforts. Together, you can turn the tide of global opinion, shatter impunity and finally put an end to this abhorrence.”
She recounted to the Security Council members the story of a Jordanian woman she met last month who was afraid to speak out after being assaulted.
“She knew that if she spoke out against the crimes against her, she would be attacked and possibly killed,” Ms. Jolie said. “Rape is a tool of war. It is an act of aggression and a crime against humanity.”
The Oscar-winning actress told members that their 15-member body was responsible for the world’s peace and security. She emphasized international peace and security was threatened because of this crime of rape.
“Rape as a weapon of war is an assault on security and a world in which these crimes happen is one in which there is not and never will be peace,” she said. “Addressing war zone sexual violence is, therefore, your responsibility, as well as the duty of governments in countries affected by it.”
I understand that there are many things that are difficult for the UN Security Council to agree on,” she said. “But sexual violence in conflict should not be one of them.”
In adopting the motion the Security Council said that the resolution “encourages members states to include the full range of crimes of sexual violence in national penal legislation to enable prosecution for such acts.”
British Foreign Minister William Hague said that in conflicts around the world “rape is used systematically and ruthlessly, in the almost certain knowledge that there will be no consequences for the perpetrators.”
Ban-Ki moon, the UN Secretary General, said the Security Council resolution sent a strong signal to perpetrators that their acts will no longer be tolerated and they will be held accountable.
He recounted his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo in May when he visited a hospital in Goma. He said he met women and girls raped and maimed by soldiers from all sides of the conflict.
“Many had a condition called traumatic fistula. In plain terms, they had been torn inside,” he told the council. “Experiencing great pain and often unable to control bladder and bowels, they are disabled and often shunned by society.”
Ban said the Congolese women were angry and had a clear message, “No more impunity. No more war. Give us peace.”
By Perviz Walji