William Hague announced a new initiative last night – a UK task force of experts is to be created to go into conflict zones to get the evidence to enable prosecutions against those who perpetrate sexual violence and rape as a weapon of war.
As Minister for tackling Violence against women and girls overseas I am proud of this commitment by us as a government to tackle this most horrendous of crimes. It is hugely important in substance, because experts will now collect evidence in conflict zones to enable prosecutions to be successfully brought to end the dreadful impunity that has protected war criminals from facing the consequences of their actions.
The Government will also use the UK presidency of the G8 next year to promote practical ways of tackling sexual violence in war zones.
Sexual violence and rape as a weapon of war are of such a scale as to be virtually unbelievable. United Nations statistics show that worldwide one in five women will become a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime.
Angelina Jolie’s film ‘In the land of blood and honey’ tells the story of the indiscriminate rape of Croats and Muslims during the Bosnia War in the most powerful way. The film was screened at the Foreign Office with an invited audience of those who work in this field – and Angelina herself was there to introduce and talk about her work.
I was able to meet Ms Jolie together with the Foreign Secretary, the Defence Secretary, Alan Duncan and Jeremy Browne for a discussion on our new initiative and her work in tackling sexual violence.
She is an extremely intelligent and articulate woman – and has thankfully shone a brilliant light into a very very dark corner. I hope many many people go and see her hugely powerful film.