LONDON — The age-old link between warfare and rape can be broken, and perpetrators cannot assume that they will get away with it, actress Angelina Jolie and top diplomats said Friday, as they endorsed international efforts to increase the investigation and prosecution of a crime that has historically gone unpunished.
“We refuse to believe that this is too big to defeat,” Secretary of State John Kerry said, “that this is somehow too deeply ingrained in human nature or society not to care about it.”
He closed a four-day conference headlined by the Hollywood actress that examined all aspects of sexual violence in wartime, including the widespread expectation that victims will not report the assault. “We are convinced that we can make a difference, and that there is no place in the civilized world for sexual violence as a tool of war,” Mr. Kerry said.
Several hundred diplomats, activists, lawyers, judges and victims met at the invitation of British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who has made ending sexual violence in conflict his signature cause. Individual nations pledged millions of dollars for initiatives, including outreach to improve reporting and documentation of the crime and special courts for prosecution.
“Young lives are being ruined by sexual violence in Syria, South Sudan and Central African Republic, as we gather here, as we speak,” Ms. Jolie said. “For people in those countries, the actions we have promised cannot come soon enough. For them, shattering impunity must begin now.”
Earlier in the week, Mr. Hague and Ms. Jolie launched an “international protocol,” a set of guidelines on collecting evidence and investigating sexual crimes. The 140-page manual includes specific proposals about, for instance, how to store forensic evidence in the aftermath of a rape and what types of questions to ask in an interview.england - london - Europe - Western Europe - Angelina Jolie - John Kerry - United Kingdom - William Hague