Angelina Jolie speaks at UN peacekeeping summit in Vancouver
Megan Devlin, CTV Vancouver
Published Wednesday, November 15, 2017 4:30PM PST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 15, 2017 6:53PM PST
Angelina Jolie visited Vancouver on Wednesday for a UN peacekeeping summit where she gave a stirring speech urging officials, diplomats and military representatives to muster the political will to crack down on sexual violence.
The actor, activist and UN special envoy said that exploitation of women and girls still takes place at alarming rates. She said sexual violence is a weapon of war, and should be persecuted as such.
"It is cheaper than a bullet," Jolie said. "This is rape and assault designed to torture, to terrorize and to force people to flee."
She asked that sexual violence be brought in as a central issue in peace negotiations so that prosecutions could be mounted, adding that "justice for survivors of rape is still the exception."
"We have the laws, the institutions, the expertise in gathering evidence," she said. "What is missing? The political will."
She touched on UN peacekeepers themselves being the ones to perpetrate sexual violence, urging military comrades to be angry at their values being betrayed.
"There is nothing worse than when someone in uniform is harming the very civilians they are sent to protect," she said.
She also alluded to the movement outing prominent sexual abusers in Hollywood, saying sexual violence is everywhere including the industry where she works.
Jolie employed moving examples from her time working with the UN, including female Rohingya refugees who are survivors or witnesses to sexual violence and girls as young as 18 months who were raped by soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Jolie centred her speech on three myths surrounding sexual violence. The first myth, she said, is that the behaviour is sexual in nature rather than abusive. The second myth she touched on is that rape during wartime is an inevitable aspect of the breakdown of social order. She asked for sexual violence not to be treated as a lesser crime.
"No perpetrator is above the law and no survivor is beneath it," she said.
The third myth, she said, is that many people believe it's impossible to do anything about sexual violence.
But the philanthropist believes change is possible.
She called on nations to increase the number of women peacekeepers—women currently make up only 4 per cent of UN peacekeeping forces.
She also pointed to training going on in Kenya for peacekeeprs to learn how to respond to sexual violence and interact with survivors.
She applauded Canada, the U.K. and Bangladesh for joining a senior military chief's network aiming to increase the number of women in their militaries.