The four-day Global Summit to end Sexual Violence in Conflict opens today in London, the culmination of a two-year campaign to raise awareness about this crime which so often is perpetrated with impunity. The hosts of the event are Angelina Jolie and William Hague, UK Foreign Secretary.
London's Excel Centre hosts the Global Summit to end Sexual Violence in Conflict from June 10 to 13, chaired by Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Angelina Jolie and British Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, William Hague. Over one hundred NGOs, over six hundred government delegates, seventy ministers, nine hundred experts and 48 Foreign Ministers attending the Summit make it the largest of its kind to date.
The four aims
The aim of the Summit is to make a lasting impact on a mass crime which has, in general terms, been perpetrated with impunity. It is this which is one of the main focal points of the event, ending the culture of impunity with an International Protocol to create standards for the documentation and investigation of sexual violence in conflict zones. This, together with fresh legislation introduced in domestic legal process, it is hoped, will provide a mechanism for strengthening the cases brought against perpetrators.
The second aim is to call for modules preventing sexual violence to become part of military training programs, so that soldiers understand the seriousness of the crime and its effect on the victims and instead of perpetrating it, will protect people and prevent rape from happening.
Support for the victims and whistleblowers is the third aim of the Summit. Human rights activists who expose this crime are often at risk. The Summit aims to raise funds to create support mechanisms for the children, men and women who are victimized and traumatized by rape.
Finally, the Summit intends "to produce a seismic shift in attitudes" and for this, will call on governments, community and religious leaders and civil society to condemn wartime sexual violence, raising awareness by showing the true scale of the question and the endemic cycles of violence it foments.
Time to act
In recent years, there have been 150 million women victims and 70 million male (men and boys) victims. Of the estimated 50,000 women raped in Bosnia, only twelve cases actually went to court.
How can an act of extreme violence committed by an armed male against a defenceless civilian victim go unpunished in a world which prides itself on being civilized?