The actress and UN Special Envoy plans to visit survivors of sexual violence seeking refuge in camps in Bangladesh
Hollywood actor and rights advocate Angelina Jolie has condemned the sexual violence faced by the Rohingya women fleeing Myanmar’s Rakhine State, where a military-led counter-insurgency operation has forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims out of their homes.
Jolie, who is the Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, was speaking at the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial Summit being held in Vancouver.
In her keynote address, Jolie highlighted the plight of Rohingya women seeking shelter in the refugee camps in the neighbouring Bangladesh.
“According to the UN, almost every female Rohingya refugee in the camps in Bangladesh is either a survivor of sexual violence or a witness to multiple incidences of sexual assault, rape or gang‑rape,” she stated, adding half of the patients treated for rape have reportedly been under the age of 18.
She said: “Despite being prohibited by law, sexual violence continues to be employed as a tactic of war in 19 countries. It includes mass rape, gang rape, sexual slavery, and rape of as a form of torture, ethnic cleansing and terrorism.”
Jolie further pointed out that while “conflict-related sexual violence is clearly understood as a crime, it is treated as a lesser crime”, where it is not included in peace negotiations or agreements.
“But sexual violence is a weapon, used to deliberate effect, to achieve military or political objectives,” she said.
“It is cheaper than a bullet, and it has lasting consequences, that unfold with sickening predictability.
According to a statement by the Bangladesh foreign ministry, Jolie is planning to visit the Rohingya victims of sexual violence. However, no other details of her trip were mentioned.
Earlier this week, celebrities around the world, including Riz Ahmed, Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling, Nandita Das and Freida Pinto, also put out an open letter speaking out against the ethnic cleansing crisis of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
Myanmar soldiers have been accused of systematically raping Rohingya women, triggering an exodus to Bangladesh where some 610,000 Rohingya have taken refuge in the last ten weeks.