News 28 Mar 14

Angelina Jolie Hails Bosnia War Rape Initiative

The Hollywood star addressed a conference in Sarajevo on wartime sexual violence, saying that peacekeeping troops needed better training to help prevent rape in conflict zones.

Denis Dzidic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Angelina Jolie (centre) and William Hague (second from right) in Sarajevo.

Jolie, the director of the Bosnian war film ‘In the Land of Blood and Honey’, told the conference on Friday that sexual violence in conflict situations was “devastating” because it destroys families.

“We know that soldiers must have a clear mandate, training and knowledge in order to fight sexual violence,” said Jolie, hailing a Bosnian initiative to train peacekeepers to help stop rape being used as a weapon against civilians in conflict zones.

“Soldiers in peacekeeping missions are often all that stands between a child and horrible violence,” Jolie added.

British foreign secretary William Hague, who also addressed the conference, said that sexual violence was used in war zones all over the world to terrorise civilians, and that it must be eliminated.

Hague was instrumental in launching the international ‘Preventing Sexual Violence’ initiative two years ago.

“The idea was partly initiated by events in this country [Bosnia and Herzegovina], where tens of thousands of women were raped [during the 1992-95 conflict],” Hague said.

“Sexual violence does more damage to society than any fighting. That is why I hope that we can prevent events from Bosnia and Herzegovina from being repeated in the world,” he added.

The conference, organised in Sarajevo by Bosnia’s defence ministry, discussed how to develop training for soldiers who go on peacekeeping missions.

The Bosnian and Croatian foreign ministers, Zlatko Lagumdzija and Vesna Pusic, also attended the event.

“People from Bosnia and the region have the moral obligation to help this project due to our recent past,” said Lagumdzija.

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