“Sexual violence in conflict is still a taboo subject. Female and male survivors, and children born of this rape, are often treated as if they are the ones who have done something wrong,” Jolie stated in an interview with Marie Claire.
“They are rejected, stigmatised, while their attackers go unpunished. That’s what has to change, and breaking the taboo is part of that,” she continued.
This interview isn’t the first time Jolie has shown her support for survivors of sexual crime.
In 2012, Jolie, alongside former UK foreign secretary William Hague, founded the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative. The Initiative seeks to raise awareness to the extent of sexual violence around the world, supports survivors, and is dedicated to finding justice for victims.
“Our partners in this effort are victims speaking out, local NGOs and governments from around the world as well as militaries,” Jolie explained. “We have to solve this comprehensively. We need to go to the heart of where there are abuses and make changes, and press for new practices and accountability.”
The Initiative recently held a film festival dedicated to the showing of films and documentaries that address the issue of sexual violence worldwide. The two-day event hosted a total of 38 films that shared the stories of those who survived sexual assault and harassment.
Later in the interview, Jolie addressed how she discusses sexual violence with her own children, something many parents struggle with.
“I don’t just speak to my daughters. I speak to them with their brothers,” she stated. “That is maybe the first most important distinction. This is not just a problem for women, and the solution is working with women and men. And girls and boys.”
She went on to explain that men who commit such acts must be reminded by other men what healthy relationships entail, and that behavior of this nature is not to be tolerated.
Jolie’s statements address an important aspect of finding a solution for sexual violence.
If women are the only ones having conversations about sexual assault and harassment, progress will be slow. Men need to join the conversation as well and talk with each other about the issues surrounding sexual violence.
Jolie’s hard work surrounding sexual violence is certainly admirable. Not only has she stressed the importance of supporting survivors and holding perpetrators accountable, she has also called on men to join the conversation.
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