Hollywood star and United Nations envoy Angelina Jolie was to join forces with Britain’s foreign minister on Tuesday to launch a dedicated British team to combat and prevent sexual violence overseas.
A screening of Jolie’s film “In The Land Of Blood and Honey”, a love story set against the backdrop of the war in Bosnia, was to accompany the London launch.
The initiative, launched ahead of Britain’s 2013 presidency of the G8 group of industrialised nations, will be accompanied by a year-long diplomatic campaign on the issue, Foreign Secretary William Hague was to say.
“It is in the context of war and conflict that sexual violence is found to the most appalling degree, and on a scale most of us cannot imagine,” Hague was to say, according to pre-released remarks.
“Sexual violence is an issue which is central to conflict prevention and to peace building worldwide,” he was to add.
The British team will “draw on the skills of doctors, lawyers, police, psychologists, forensic experts and experts in the care and protection of victims and witnesses”.
The group, available to be sent overseas at short notice, will be able to gather evidence and testimony for use in prosecutions, as well as supporting United Nations missions and training national authorities in other countries.
The foreign ministry said that 20,000 to 50,000 women were raped in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995, while 50,000 to 64,000 were raped in Sierra Leone, where a civil war lasted from 1991 to 2002.
“There are horrifying reports now starting to emerge of rape in Syria,” Hague was to say.
Jolie, who is a special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has visited conflict zones including Iraq, Darfur in Sudan and Libya during its revolutionary conflict in 2011.
“In The Land Of Blood and Honey”, her debut as a director, deals with mass rapes by Bosnian Serb forces.
[Actress Angelina Jolie on the Oscars red carpet earlier this year. AFP Photo/Ethan Miller]