Angelina Jolie at the UN with a Giant Teaspoon

[Content Note: Descriptions of sexual violence.]

Yesterday, Angelina Jolie, a special envoy for the UN Refugee Agency, spoke before the UN Security Council, urging them to prioritize addressing war zone rape as she shared survivors' stories. Here is AP video of part of her testimony:

I will never forget the survivors I've met, or what they told me. The mother in Goma, whose five-year-old daughter had been raped outside a police station in plain view. Or the Syrian woman I met in Jordan last week, who asked I hide her name and face, because she knew that if she spoke out against the crimes against her, she would be attacked and possibly killed.

Rape is a tool of war. It is an act of aggression and a crime against humanity. The numbers are so vast, and the numbers so painful, that we often have to stop to remember that, behind each number is someone with a name, a personality, a story, and dreams no different from ours and those of our children.

I understand that there are many things that are difficult for the UN Security Council to agree on, but sexual violence in conflict should not be one of them. That it is a crime to rape young children is not something I imagine anyone in this room would not be able to agree on.

The rights and wrongs of this issue are straightforward, and the actions that need to be taken have been identified. What is needed is political will. And that is what is being asked of your countries today: To act on the knowledge of what is right and what is unjust, and to show the determination to do something about it.
Reuters: "After Jolie spoke—along with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Ban's special envoy on sexual violence in conflict, Zainab Bangura—the 15-member Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing that rape can exacerbate conflicts and impeded the restoration of peace and security. The resolution 'encourages members states to include the full range of crimes of sexual violence in national penal legislation to enable prosecution for such acts.'"

This is an important start in addressing a vast and difficult problem.

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