SAN FRANCISCO — Gunshots and bombings are not the only acts of violence during times of war. Sexual assault is also an act of violence. Women are being raped every day in war zones, especially in developing countries, and are finally receiving the attention that is necessary.
This past week, there was an event called the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict at ExCel, London. Angelina Jolie and William Hague, British foreign secretary, co-chaired the event. They were not the only prominent figures; John Kerry had some input, as well. “Banish sexual violence to the dark ages in the history books,” said Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State. “I believe that one of the outcomes of this summit is that this subject is now firmly on the top table of international diplomacy and we will work to ensure that it stays there,” said Jolie.
This was the largest event on the issue of stopping sexual violence in war zones, where there were hundreds of participants from Somalia to Kosovo. A total of 155 countries, including the U.S. and Britain, signed a declaration of commitment to stop sexual violence. The summit achieved its first goal by getting the word out and getting hundreds involved.
The next step is to take small actions to actually stop sexual violence, which include enlightening soldiers and peacemakers about what sexual violence actually is, how to prevent it and to protect people.
Thirdly, there will be much more support for sexual violence survivors and human rights defenders who often put themselves at risk. The UK government has already donated over $18 million to this cause.
Lastly, the participants of the summit want to get rid of myths that rape is impossible to stop and not as bad of a crime as others. The goal of the summit was to make all leaders aware of how heinous sexual violence is, and that it needs to be condemned. Sexual violence creates a cycle of victims being traumatized and lowers their self-esteem and self-empowerment.