Angelina Jolie knows that sexual violence is “a critical obstacle to achieving women’s equality and our full human rights.”
The actress delivered the keynote speech at the United Nations Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial Conference on Wednesday in Vancouver, Canada. She called on international conflict negotiators to combat sexual violence, which is often used as a weapon in areas of conflict.
“We have to ask how is it after all these years, all these laws, and all these resolutions and all the horrors endured, women still have to ask for this most basic of all entitlements: the right to a life free from violence,” Jolie told the crowd.
The U.N. appointed Jolie a special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2012. The 42-year-old actress has long been an advocate for humanitarian causes, traveling on field missions around the world to help displaced people.
At #PeaceConf17 in #Vancouver, @Refugees Special Envoy Angelina Jolie delivered a powerful speech advocating for the right of women and girls to live a life free of sexual violence. pic.twitter.com/cMoDmBW2pm— UN Peacekeeping (@UNPeacekeeping) November 16, 2017
In her speech, Jolie discussed just how rampant sexual violence really is.
“Sexual violence is everywhere,” she said. “In the industry where I work, in businesses, in universities, in policies, politicians, military across the world. It affects men as well as women.”
Jolie debunked the myth that sexual violence is in any way sexual. It’s not about sex, she said, it’s about control and power. She talked about conflict areas in Bangladesh and Congo and how militiamen often go door to door raping women as a war tactic.
“This is rape and assault designed to torture, to terrorize and to force people to flee. It has nothing to do with sex. It has everything to do with abuse of power, it is criminal behavior,” she said. “Sexual violence is a weapon, used to deliberate effect to achieve military or political objectives. It is cheaper than a bullet. It has long-lasting consequences that unfold with sickening predictability. And that is what makes it so cruelly effective.”
Watch Jolie’s full speech below.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.