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SEXUAL VIOLENCE

Jolie and Hague team up to fight rape as weapon of war

Actress and British foreign secretary to host London summit attended by 140 nations that aims to end sexual violence in conflict zones

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 February, 2014, 9:49pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 February, 2014, 9:49pm
 

British Foreign Secretary William Hague and actress Angelina Jolie are joining forces to co-host a summit this year focused on ending rape as a weapon of war.

Hague, who on Tuesday was awarded the 2014 Hillary Clinton prize for Women, Peace and Security, pledged that the four-day London gathering in June would "be a summit like no other" bringing together foreign ministers from 140 countries .

It was Jolie's film In the Land of Blood and Honey which first opened his eyes to the extent of sexual violence in war , he told the award ceremony at Georgetown University in Washington.

"Sexual violence is often one of the first things that happens as soon as conflict or instability take hold," Hague said. "Yet it is usually the last thing to be taken into account by those ending wars or rebuilding nations." He added: "Women bear the worst of the burden of war."

"We must remove rape and sexual violence from the world's arsenal of cruelty," Hague said.

The June 10-13 meeting would be the largest gathering ever to focus on sexual violence in conflict, and would also bring together armed forces, police units and legal experts, Hague explained.

It would ask countries "to write action against sexual violence into their military training and doctrine and their peace-keeping missions overseas", and launch a new global protocol on investigating such crimes.

"But we are going to be even more ambitious than that. We are setting out to change the whole global attitude to these crimes, as well changing bureaucracies," Hague said.

The hope was to create "so much momentum that we begin to shatter the culture of impunity", he added.

"If women are still treated in this abhorrent way in times of war, they will never be treated as equals in times of peace, and that cannot be tolerated."

As president of the Group of Eight leading industrial countries last year, Hague launched the "Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative" to bring more perpetrators to justice.

In presenting the award, former US secretary of state Clinton said "women, peace and security ... must be perceived as being integral" to all other global issues such as the conflict in Syria.

Jolie's 2011 film, which marked her directorial debut, is a love story told against the backdrop of the Bosnian war two decades ago, when according to Hague some 50,000 women were raped. Virtually none of them have received justice, the British minister said.

"By taking up this cause we are shouldering a responsibility that our world has shirked for too long; and having taken it up, now we must never set it down again," Hague said.

Additional reporting by McClatchy-Tribune

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