When Angelina talks, we listen - literally, the subject matter is irrelevant, she's that engaging. However, this time the subject matter is both timely, and of a culturally important, need-to-know nature. Angelina Jolie has brought to light the ways the Islamic State is using sexual violence as a 'dehumanising weapons', detailing the atrocities committed against women and girls as young as seven.
Jolie, who is part of a committee on sexual violence in war, told the House of Lords in a speech: 'For over 10 years I've been visiting the field and meeting with families and survivors of sexual violence who felt for so long that their voices simply didn't matter. They weren't heard and they carried a great shame.'
She detailed the stories of the girls she had spoken to, including this particularly devastating one: 'I remember distinctly meeting this little girl who was very young, perhaps 7 or 8, and she was rocking back and forward staring at the wall and tears streaming down her face because she had been brutally raped multiple times. You couldn't talk to her, you couldn't touch her. I felt absolutely helpless and didn't know what to do for her.' Absolutely heart-wrenching.
An avid activist and campaigner, Jolie launched the UK's Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) together with William Hague 3 years ago and last year, they chaired the Global Summit To End Sexual Violence In Conflict. In an update to the committee since then, she said: 'The most important thing is to understand what it's not: it's not sexual, it's a violent, brutal, terrorising weapon and it is used unfortunately, everywhere. The most aggressive terrorist group in the world today knows what we know; knows that it is a very effective weapon and [is] using it as a centrepoint of their terror and their way of destroying communities and families and attacking, destroying and dehumanising.'
'I know what would happen to my family if I were raped or my daughters were raped. All of you sitting in this room. What would that do to their lives, to your family structure? You would want to know it was wrong and that the world thought it was wrong and the person who did this to you didn't just walk away,' she added.
Adding to a week of 'Angelina Jolie Proves She's An Actual Angel Among Us', the unstoppable force that is Angelina Jolie also wrote a joint comment piece for The Times with Baroness Arminka Helic, urging Europe to prioritise refugees escaping from war and persecution over economic migrants, as Europe begins to tackle the biggest refugee crisis its seen since World War II.
Acting career aside, Jolie is also special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, whilst House of Lords member Lady Helic is a former refugee who fled Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s. Hopefully, the Angelina effect (as experienced by William Hague who joined her in her activism against rape in conflict) will be supercharged by Lady Helic's own influences.
In the comment piece, they wrote: 'All the people on the move in these tragic circumstances must have their human rights and dignity respected and their needs understood and addressed. We should not stigmatise anyone for the aspiration to a better life.’
The pair also call out the current discussions about aid pledges, saying ‘We cannot donate our way out of the crisis, we cannot solve it simply by taking in refugees, we have to find a diplomatic route to end the conflict’. Way to drop the truth bombs!
‘We should see this for what it is – part of a wider crisis in global governance. Over the past ten years the number of forcibly displaced people in the world has doubled to 60 million. It is unsustainable and beyond what international humanitarian organisations can manage.’
Words: Kate Ng