“It’s not sexual, it is a violent brutal terrorising weapon.”
WARNING: This post deals with sexual violence and may be triggering for some readers.
Hollywood superstar, mother of six and humanitarian Angelina Jolie has surprised and impressed yet again, this time schooling a British parliamentary committee on the atrocities of sexual violence in conflicts around the world.
“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 40-year-old told the committee on Tuesday, according to The Guardian.
“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 centre point of their terror and their way of destroying communities and families and attacking, destroying and dehumanising.”
Jolie said Islamic State’s policy of raping women if they are not Muslims clearly demonstrates the urgent need to tackle sexual violence and deter the use of mass rape as a weapon.
The actress shared harrowing stories from girls she met; some as young as seven, who had been brutally sexually assaulted in areas of conflict.
“I met a 13-year-old girl in Iraq who had been kept in a room with many other girls and they were taken out in twos to this very dirty room and dirty couch and raped repeatedly,” she said.
“But they told me that what was even worse than the physical violence was they then had to stand in rows and watch their friends be sold and to hear men arguing about what they were worth.
“Whether they were $40, $50. What was the price of them? What was their value?… It made her question what she was worth.”
From Angsty to Ambassador: the ages of Angelina Jolie (the post continues after gallery).
Jolie said she had spent more than ten years visiting war-torn countries and meeting survivors of sexual assault who felt their voices didn’t matter, the Daily Mail reports.
“I remember distinctly meeting this little girl who was very young, probably about seven or eight, and she was rocking backwards and forwards staring at the wall, and tears were streaming down her face because she had been brutally raped multiple times, you couldn’t talk to her, you couldn’t touch her,” she said.
“I felt absolutely helpless, I didn’t know what to do for her.
“Laws need to change; policies need to change; governments and leaderships need to come together and that will make the real change.”
Watch Angelina Jolie’s moving speech in full here (post continues after video):
Three years ago, Jolie and former British foreign secretary William Hague launched the UK’s preventing sexual violence initiative and appeared before a parliamentary committee this week to update it on their progress.
Bravo, Angelina, for using your power for good and sharing stories from voices that desperately need to be heard.