Angelina Jolie Says 3 Myths Fuel Sexual Violence

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Angelina Jolie believes there are three myths as to why sexual violence — which the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network defines as a “non-legal term that refers to crimes like sexual assault, rape, and sexual abuse” — still occurs in conflict zones and elsewhere, despite the advancements made around the world.

 The 42-year-old actor, mother and Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees gave a keynote speech in Vancouver at the UN Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial Summit (read the full speech here).

The mom-of-six thanks Canada for hosting the event, and for its “leadership on women, peace and security.” She then goes on to urge politicians, defence ministers and military leaders to help UN peacekeepers better respond to sexual violence around the world, and outlines the myths she believes are at the heart why these crimes persist, and which “we have to overcome together.”

“The first myth is that this behaviour is sexual,” Jolie’s speech explains. “All too often these kinds of crimes against women are laughed off, depicted as a minor offense by someone who cannot control themselves, as an illness, or as some kind of exaggerated sexual need,”

“But a man who mistreats women is not oversexed. He is abusive.”

Jolie cites UN claims that almost every female Rohingya refugee in the camps in Bangladesh is a survivor of, or witness to, sexual violence, sexual assault, rape, or gang-rape.

“This is rape and assault designed to torture, to terrorize, to force people to flee, and to humiliate them. It has nothing to do with sex. It has everything to do with the abuse of power.”

Jolie says the second myth is that sexual violence isn’t seen as “serious” enough of a crime to warrant significant action. It isn’t treated as “a central issue for peace negotiations or agreements. Not grave enough to mount prosecutions and imprison those responsible.”

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