She’s a Hollywood icon, he’s a ruddy-cheeked and bald British politician. They may be the oddest pairing in political history, but Angelina Jolie and William Hague have joined forces for a war zone anti-rape campaign.
The campaign to end sexual violence in conflict zones has been a project that the unlikely twosome have been working on for two years, with their efforts cumulating at a four-day Global Summit in London, which kick-started yesterday.
During their work together Jolie, a UN special envoy, and Foreign Secretary Hague visited the Democratic Republic of Congo and Bosnia to meet victims of rape during conflict.
“We believe it truly is a summit like no other,” said Jolie who dedicated her role at the event to a victim she met in Bosnia who was so ashamed of her attack that she never told her own son.
Hague added: “This will be the greatest concentration of effort, of discussion and decision ever seen in combating sexual violence in conflict.”
The politician revealed that he was inspired to make a stand after seeing Jolie’s directorial debut In The Land Of Blood And Honey, a controversial movie that was intended to remind the world of the horrors of the Bosnian war, which began over 20 years ago.
Jolie received death threats for making the film, which looks at how a pre-war romance between a Muslim artist, Ajla, and a Serbian police officer, Danijel, becomes progressively more twisted by the conflict.
While the film follows a romance it by no means plays down the severe reality of a war zone, showing executions and the systematic rape of innocent women in many of the camps set up around the country. It was this brutal portrayal that Hague admits “alerted” him to the sexual violence in conflict zones.
Jineth Bedoya Lima, a journalist who endured sexual violence in Colombia’s conflict, said: “For the first time in history a world summit highlights and denounces a crime that is normally made invisible and is often silenced by the majority of states.”
Hague and Jolie will be addressing the serious issue throughout the summit as well as holding meetings with youth delegates. Jolie said: “We must send a message across the world that there is no disgrace in being a survivor of sexual violence – the shame is on the aggressor.”