UNITED NATIONS - Movie star Angelina Jolie pleaded with members of the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution that would punish the perpetrators of sexual violence during conflict and protect the victims of the crime.
"Let us be clear what we're speaking of," said Jolie, who serves as a special envoy of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres. "Young girls raped and impregnated before their bodies are able to carry a child, causing fistula. Boys held at gunpoint and forced to sexually assault their mothers and sisters. Women raped with bottles, wood branches and knives to cause as much damage as possible."
Jolie's short prepared speech came a few days after she visited the Syrian border, where she met with refugees in what she called "the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century," according to a U.N. report of her visit to mark World Refugee Day, June 20.
She told Security Council members the story of one woman she met in Jordan who was afraid to speak out after being assaulted.
"She knew that if she spoke out against the crimes against her, she would be attacked and possibly killed," Jolie said. "Rape is a tool of war. It is an act of aggression and a crime against humanity."
She cited the United Nations charter to impress upon the Security Council that the 15-member body is responsible for the world's peace and security - and that sexual violence threatens international peace and security.
"Rape as a weapon of war is an assault on security and a world in which these crimes happen is one in which there is not and never will be peace," she said. "Addressing war zone sexual violence is, therefore, your responsibility, as well as the duty of governments in countries affected by it."
Jolie said of the victims, "They suffer most at the hands of their rapists, but they are also victims of a culture of impunity," and she took a jab at the inertia that sometimes steers the Security Council into political paralysis.
"I understand that there are many things that are difficult for the U.N. Security Council to agree on," she said. "But sexual violence in conflict should not be one of them."
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