Jolie to U.N. peacekeepers: ‘Political will’ needed to fight sexual violence

Angelina Jolie, special envoy to the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, arrives to be greeted by Harjit Singh Sajjan, Canadian minister of national defense, during the 2017 U.N.Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Wednesday. Photo by Heinz Ruckemann/UPI

Nov. 16 (UPI) — Angelina Jolie, Oscar-winning actress and special envoy to the U.N. Comission on Refugees, spoke Wednesday at the U.N. Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial Conference in Vancouver about the importance of stamping out sexual violence around the world.

The Guardian quoted the longtime human-rights advocate, who is also the real-life mother of six children, as urging those gathered at the meeting to step up their efforts to prevent sexual violence and hold accountable perpetrators in war-torn regions.

Jolie gave as an example the female refugees from Myanmar living in Bangladesh who have been harmed or witnessed the sexual abuse of others.

“This is rape and assault designed to torture, to terrorize, to force people to flee, and to humiliate them. It has nothing to do with sex. It has everything to do with the abuse of power. It is criminal behavior,” she said.

“Even if we accept that sexual violence has nothing to do with sex, that it is a crime, and that it is used as a weapon, many people still believe that it is simply not possible to do anything about it. It is hard, but it is not impossible. We have the laws, the institutions, and the expertise in gathering evidence. We are able to identify perpetrators. What is missing is the political will.”

People magazine said the film star and director also referenced in her speech the allegations of sexual harassment and violence in the U.S. entertainment industry that have recently come to light.

“All too often, these kinds of crimes against women are laughed off, depicted as a minor offense by someone who cannot control themselves, as an illness, or as some kind of exaggerated sexual need,” she said. “But a man who mistreats women is not oversexed. He is abusive.”


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