World leaders face pressure to act against sexual violence at UK summit

Mon Jun 9, 2014 7:49am GMT
 

By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - The kidnapping of 200 Nigerian girls and several recent horrific murders of women is expected to raise pressure on the world community to take concrete action to punish those responsible for sexual violence at a global summit in London this week.

Invited by Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, government ministers, military and judicial leaders and aid workers from about 150 nations will join the first global summit to end sexual violence in conflict.

The June 10-13 summit follows a run of shocking cases of violence against women including the kidnap of schoolgirls by Islamist Boko Haram, the stoning to death of a pregnant woman in Pakistan in a so-called "honour killing", and the gang-rape and murder of two Indian teenagers who were hanged from a tree.

Hague said too often those who committed these crimes never faced justice and the summit would agree the first international protocol on how to document and investigate sexual violence in conflicts.

"Often it is the lack of evidence that means that these things go unpunished," Hague told Sky television on Sunday.

"Now this will lead to prosecutions. None of this will be achieved overnight but this is a problem which has been getting worse in recent decades and is utterly unacceptable in the 21st century."

The conference, with 1,200 attendees including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, will be co-hosted by Hague and Jolie, special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who joined forces in 2012 to tackle rape and sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Oscar-winner Jolie's involvement in humanitarian issues dates back to 2001 when she travelled to Sierra Leone as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and was horrified to see the impact of years of civil war when an estimated 60,000 women were raped.   Continued...

 
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