The co-founders of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, former UK Foreign Secretary The Rt Hon William Hague and UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt, joined Special Envoy Diop to meet survivors of and campaigners against sexual violence, at a forum hosted by the British High Commissioner in Johannesburg today.
Mr Hague and Ms Jolie Pitt are attending the African Union Summit as guests of AU Chairperson H.E. Dr Dlamini-Zuma. They will take part in events to highlight the urgent need to address the use of rape as a tactic of war, and to empower women across the continent.
In talks hosted by UK High Commissioner Judith Macgregor, they discussed how experiences gained by those working to combat sexual violence in South Africa and the region could be brought to bear in the fight against conflict-related sexual violence. Experts spoke of the deliberate targeting of women during conflict, the shocking level of impunity for these crimes, the importance of military training and doctrine and the imperative to protect, honour and support survivors. They emphasized the importance of involving men and boys, and changing harmful attitudes towards women. They also discussed the exceptional vulnerability of migrants and refugees and the need for leadership in recognizing their status and needs.
William Hague said: “As we mark one year since the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, we are determined to continue the campaign to end impunity for these crimes. We need action on a broad front and in many different nations – changing attitudes through education and leadership, eroding impunity by holding perpetrators to account, and helping survivors rebuild their lives. The member states of the African Union are a vital part of this effort.”
Angelina Jolie Pitt said: “There is a global epidemic of violence against women which can no longer be tolerated, and must be addressed. Every individual in society has a role to play in achieving this change.”
British High Commissioner Macgregor noted the meeting had been “very moving but also rich with ideas for future action to help us fight this widespread but all too often unchallenged evil.”