Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie put spotlight on wartime sexual violence

Actress and campaigner Angelina Jolie (R) poses with husband Brad Pitt (L) and Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague as they arrive at a summit to end sexual violence in conflict. Credit: Reuters
Actress and campaigner Angelina Jolie (R) poses with husband Brad Pitt (L) and Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague as they arrive at a summit to end sexual violence in conflict.
Credit: Reuters

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie appeared together on Thursday at a global summit on ending sexual violence in conflict, in a show of celebrity power that British Foreign Secretary William Hague said was helping put a spotlight on the issue of rape as a weapon of war.

Dressed in black, Pitt and Jolie flanked Hague at the opening of the third day of a four-day summit in London that is the culmination of two years’ joint work by the actress and Hague.

Up to 1,200 government ministers, officials, activists and members of judiciaries and militaries from more than 120 countries are at the summit that aims to find practical steps to punish those responsible for sex violence and help victims.

Hague said his partnership with Oscar-winning Jolie, special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), had put the issue of sexual violence in conflict on the world agenda and was an example of how foreign policy could be conducted in the future.

“She brings what governments can’t … (as) there was no really big government of the world driving this,” Hague told a small media briefing including Reuters.

“You need something much more than government to be able to reach people who don’t easily listen to governments and Angelina brings that, as well as having great knowledge and passion about these issues.”

Jolie’s involvement in humanitarian issues dates back to 2001 when she traveled to Sierra Leone as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and saw the impact of years of civil war when an estimated 60,000 women were raped.

Her link-up with Hague came after he contacted her on seeing her 2011 directorial debut “In the Land of Blood and Honey” set against the 1992-95 Bosnian war in which more than 100,000 people were killed and an estimated 20,000 women believed raped.


The actress, 39, has attended the summit since the start on Tuesday but her partner, Pitt, joined her for the first time on Thursday for the opening plenary.

“We, as an international community, have never done enough to stop this abuse and we do survivors a disservice when they know we are aware but do nothing to hold the perpetrators accountable,” Jolie told the summit on Thursday.

“Today we have an opportunity to begin to change that.”

Both Jolie and Hague have stressed the importance of ensuring the summit is not just a talking shop but the start of action to shatter a culture of impunity over sexual violence.

The summit follows a series of shocking cases of violence against women including the kidnap of 200 Nigerian schoolgirls, the stoning of a pregnant Pakistani woman to death, and the gang-rape and murder of two Indian girls.

Last year Hague and Jolie launched a declaration, now signed by about 150 countries, pledging to pursue those responsible for sexual violence and provide justice and safety for victims.

This week they launched a international guide on how to investigate such crimes, collect evidence and prosecute.

Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, chairwoman of the African Union Commission, said it was vital that attitudes change as “without men saying ‘no,’ we will not end this cycle”.

Hague said now it was up to governments to take action and for the public and activists to hold them accountable.

“Together we can unleash a wave of practical action through the world that will make a huge difference to the lives of men, women and children in conflict zones,” he said.


Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…


Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…


Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.


Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…


'Full House' might be relaunched with some of…

A new "Full House" might be in the works.


Review: 'The Congress' is a crazy, unwieldy sci-fi…

Robin Wright is the center of gravity in "The Congress," which turns from a live-action Hollywood satire into an animated spectacular on a downer future.


Review: 'The Last of Robin Hood' is a…

Dakota Fanning plays Errol Flynn's (Kevin Kline) teenage gal pal in "The Last of Robin Hood," which takes a scandal and makes it dully empathetic.


Review: The uneven 'Life of Crime' mostly gets…

Elmore Leonard's "The Switch" becomes the new indie crime dramedy "Life of Crime," with Jennifer Aniston as a kidnapped woman whose husband won't pay up.


When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.


Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.


Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.


MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb


Does the school day start too early?

As thousands of high schoolers get ready to head back to class, health experts say it may be time to push back the start of…


Fall 2014 trend: lilac

Push those gray and black sweaters aside and make room for blush and lilac.


Stop eating lunch at your desk

What are you doing for lunch today? If you are like most workers, you'll be eating at your desk - which isn't much of a…


Lure your baby to sleep with Maroon 5…

These new renditions of "Moves Like Jagger" and "Payphone" are Maroon 5 like you've never heard them before.