'End Sexual Violence In Conflict' Summit Brings Together Angelina Jolie, William Hague, And John Kerry
On Tuesday, members of humanitarian groups, activists, and lawmakers gathered to launch what will be a four-day summit on war-zone rape, called The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. The summit will be hosted by Angelina Jolie, special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (also, badass Lara Croft). Jolie is joined by William Hague, British foreign secretary, and the two make quite the dapper pair (although they almost never smile in photos together). Jolie and Hague have been working together for two years, and recently the two took a trip to Bosnia to meet with rape victims and learn about sexual violence during the wars that took place there in the 1990s.
The summit has been publicized through the slogan and hashtag #TimeToAct. Already, it's gaining traction on social media sites; Pope Francis recently tweeted the hashtag and asked his followers to pray for the victims of sexual violence — in case anyone still wasn't convinced that Pope Francis rocks.
The summit's attendees will get to hear from a variety of speakers on the subject, including victims of sexual assault. Let’s meet some of the key players who are schedule to speak...
Jolie was appointed as an ambassador of the UNHCR in 2012 and has been on over forty field missions to learn more about victims of conflict and displaced people. In 2011, Jolie made her directorial debut with the film In the Land of Milk and Honey, which was set in war-torn Bosnia and explores the use of rape as a weapon during wartime.
At the opening of Tuesday's summit, Jolie said: "It is a myth that rape is an inevitable part of conflict. It is a weapon of war aimed at civilians," and urged that "We must send a message around the world that there is no disgrace in being a survivor of sexual violence, that the shame is on the aggressor."
Hague has been the British foreign secretary since 2010, and has worked closely with Jolie for the past two years. He says it was Jolie's 2011 film that first made him aware of sexual violence in conflict zones. At the opening of the summit, Hague expressed confidence in the impact the summit would have.
From the abolition of slavery to the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, we have shown that the international community can tackle vast global problems in a way that was once considered to be impossible.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will be attending the summit and has said he hopes it will l "relegate sexual violence to the annals of history." In February of this year, Kerry penned a piece for the Huffington Post, entitled "Preventing Sexual Violence Is a National Security Imperative."
Preventing sexual violence isn't just a great moral cause of our generation. It is a national security imperative. Sexual violence destroys lives. It fuels conflict, forces people to flee their homes and is often perpetrated alongside other human rights abuses, including forced marriage, sexual slavery and human trafficking. It undermines reconciliation and traps survivors in conflict, poverty and insecurity.
Jineth Bedoya Lima
Jineth Bedoya Lima is a Colombian journalist who was abducted and raped in 2000. Since then, she has become and advocate for victims everywhere, and will speak at the summit. Of her experience and her duty to represent other victims of sexual violence, Lima has said:
In Colombia, there is only one case of sexual violence that has been recognised as a crime against humanity – and that’s my case. But even in that case, there has been no will shown by the government, or by the state to punish the perpetrators…. So it is our hope, as survivors of sexual violence, that with the pressures and the actions of the ICC, that something might be done about sexual violence in Colombia.
Image: Jineth Bedoya Lima/Twitter