Brussels (Reuters): UN refugee agency special envoy Angelina Jolie called on NATO on Wednesday to help stop the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, as the Hollywood star broadened her international efforts to protect women’s rights.
Jolie, who earlier this week visited a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, made her appeal to the US-led alliance’s top decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council, in Brussels, and later met NATO military commanders.
“Violence against women and children, particularly sexual violence, is an increasing feature of conflict,” Jolie told a news conference at NATO headquarters alongside the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
“This is rape used as a weapon to achieve military or political goals. It affects men and boys as well as women and girls,” Jolie said.
NATO, which counts 29 members and has missions from Kosovo to Afghanistan, has agreed to help report on sexual violence in war to help bring perpetrators to justice and challenge the idea that rape is an unavoidable aspect of conflict.
Jolie, a mother of six who last year released her film “First They Killed My Father” about Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s, said she had met victims of sexual violence in conflict and was trying to be a voice for them.
Expressing frustration at the lack of assistance available to victims, Jolie said she hoped that NATO could help by raising standards in other militaries through its training programes abroad, as well as promoting the role of women in the military.