Angelina Jolie Calls for an End to Sexual Violence Around the World
While most eyes have been focused on the seemingly never-ending allegations of sexual harassment and assault by powerful men in Hollywood, Angelina Jolie would like for us to think about this issue on a global scale. In her keynote address at the United Nations Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial Conference in Vancouver on Wednesday, the actress shared her dream of living in a world where there’s no more sexual violence, and explained what she thinks it’ll take to make her dream a reality, according to the Huffington Post.
After listing the many U.N. acts and resolutions dedicated to ending sexual violence, Jolie, a Special Envoy for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said, “We have to ask: How is it, after all these years, all these laws and resolutions and all the horrors endured, women still have to ask for this most basic of all entitlements, the right to a life free from violence?” She continued, alluding to the recent accusations that have rocked Hollywood, “Sexual violence is everywhere—in the industry where I work, in business, in universities, in politics, in the military, and across the world.”
She noted that while men are affected by sexual abuse, too, it has an undeniably greater impact on women. “It is recognized by the U.N. as one of the prime reasons why women remain in a subordinate position in relation to men in most parts of the world, and as a critical obstacle to achieving women’s equality and our full human rights,” the mother of six said. “Ending gender-based violence is therefore a vital issue of social justice in all nations. And confronting its use in its most extreme form, as a weapon of war, is essential to future peace and security.”
Jolie, who once reportedly worked with the International Criminal Court to take down Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, went on to address and debunk several myths surrounding sexual violence: That rape and assault are just “some kind of exaggerated sexual need,” that sexual violence is a “lesser crime,” and that there’s nothing we can do to put an end to sexual violence. “It has nothing to do with sex. It has everything to do with the abuse of power. It is criminal behavior,” she added. “Sexual violence is a weapon, used to deliberate effect, to achieve military or political objectives. It is cheaper than a bullet, and it has lasting consequences that unfold with sickening predictability.”
In response to the notion that sexual violence is impossible to completely erase, Jolie said, “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 and those responsible. What is missing is the political will.”
The Academy Award winner previously spoke out about the sexual abuse in her own industry last month, when the initial reports exposing Harvey Weinstein’s decades-long history of sexual harassment and assault first surfaced. “I had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth, and as a result, chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did,” Jolie told the New York Times in October. “This behavior towards women in any field, any country is unacceptable.”