Calling on the international community to act urgently to prevent rape in conflict situations, UN special envoy Angelina Jolie on Friday said rape survivors needed to be seen “not as victims, but as inspiring and resilient people”.
Speaking on the concluding day of the global summit to end sexual violence in conflict in London, Jolie said governments should entrench the international protocol discussed at the four-day summit, so that such crimes could be prevented and impunity ended.
“But our work is just beginning. The test we now face is whether we can make a difference on the ground. And we need to act urgently. There are thousands of people living in the shadow of sexual violence at this very moment. There are conflicts where rape is openly incited”, she said.
Jolie's presence and participation at the event was often welcomed, with speakers stating that she brought more than starpower; that she also contributed warmth and understanding. It was attended by government representatives from over 100 countries, over 900 experts, NGOs and representatives of international organisations.
Jolie, who was one of the leading figures at the summit with foreign secretary William Hague, said that young lives were being ruined by sexual violence in Syria, South Sudan and Central African Republic.
“For people in those countries, the actions we have promised cannot come soon enough. For them, shattering impunity must begin now…We can never again plead ignorance – we know what is at stake – and we must work to end impunity in those conflicts now”, he said.
Jolie added: “For this to happen, warzone rape must remain at the top of the international agenda – at the Security Council, in regional bodies, and in the foreign policy of each of the countries gathered here today. Whether or not that happens is down to us”.