The Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie has condemned sexual violence in a speech at a UN peacekeeping conference and called upon international conflict negotiators to do more to protect victims.
Delivering the keynote address at the UN Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial Conference in Vancouver, Jolie said more should be done to prevent and punish sexual predators targeting vulnerable individuals.
“[Sexual violence] is cheaper than a bullet, and it has lasting consequences that unfold with a sickening predictability that make it so cruelly effective,” she said.
She continued: “Even if we accept that sexual violence has nothing to do with sex, that it is a crime, and that it is used as a weapon, many people still believe that it is simply not possible to do anything about it.
“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. What is missing is the political will.”
Jolie also referenced the sexual harassment scandals engulfing various different industries in recent months. She was one of the first women to come forward with allegations about the disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, Jolie told the New York Times in October that she had a “bad experience” in a hotel room with Weinstein in 1998, and refused to work with him as a result.
“Sexual violence is everywhere – in the industry where I work, in business, in universities, in politics, in the military, and across the world,” she said. “All too often, these kinds of crimes against women are laughed off, depicted as a minor offense by someone who cannot control themselves, as an illness, or as some kind of exaggerated sexual need. But a man who mistreats women is not oversexed. He is abusive.”
Jolie has made sexual violence a key part of her activism in recent years, particularly the epidemic of forced marriages in Cambodia, a country for which Jolie was awarded citizenship in 2005. She recently directed a film about the Cambodian genocide, First They Killed My Father, which debuted on Netflix this summer.