Angelina Jolie has called on UN peacekeepers to crack down on sexual violence around the world.
The Mr and Mrs Smith actress delivered the keynote address to the UN Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial Conference on Wednesday in Vancouver.
Jolie is a Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She described sexual violence as “a critical obstacle to achieving women’s equality and our full human rights.”
Describing it’s effects, Jolie said:
“Sexual violence is everywhere – in the industry where I work, in business, in universities, in politics, in the military, and across the world,”
She continued, “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 also discussed the female Rohingya refugees seeking asylum in Bangladesh, criticising international leaders for treating rape and sexual assault as an inevitability, rather than something for peacekeepers to address and punish accordingly.
“Even if we accept that sexual violence has nothing to do with sex, that it is a crime, and that it is used as a weapon, many people still believe that it is simply not possible to do anything about it.
The actress and director concluded her keynote by proclaiming that it is possible to make the changes needed for women to be able to live free from sexual violence.
“It is hard, but it is not impossible,” she said.
“We have the laws, the institutions, and the expertise in gathering evidence. We are able to identify perpetrators. What is missing is the political will.”
Watch Angelina Jolie’s full speech below: