She cannot fathom why it has taken so long

Sometimes movie stars put their celebrity to good use.

Europe’s first academic centre to combat the brutality faced by women in warzones has been opened in London by Angelina Jolie, who called for “the empowerment of women to be the highest priority for the finest minds, in the best academic institutions”.

Jolie, a special envoy for the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), has just returned from northern Iraq, where she met some of the millions of refugees forced to flee from their homes due to Islamic State (Isis) violence. She said students of the centre on women, peace and security at the London School of Economics (LSE) had the chance to change the world.

That seems like a good thing to have.

The Hollywood actor, director and international women’s rights campaigner was joined at LSE by the former UK foreign secretary William Hague. The pair have worked together for three years on an initiative to prevent sexual violence in conflict.

A four-day summit hosted by Jolie and Hague in June last year, as part of the UK government’s Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict initiative, resulted in a protocol signed by 151 countries and the LSE’s centre on women, peace and security is the latest step in trying to combat the use of rape as a weapon of war.

The groundbreaking LSE centre on women, peace and security will gather key thinkers, activists, policymakers and academics together in order to better tackle intransigent global problems such as the prosecution of warzone rapists and women’s engagement in politics.

Thumbs up.

Asked after her speech why it had taken so long for sexual violence to gain the world’s attention, Jolie said: “My emotional response is: I have no idea. I find it abhorrent and it makes absolutely no sense to me that we know that girls are being are being sold into sexual slavery; that when a woman is raped she is forced from her community; that girls as young as nine are being married off.

“I cannot fathom why it has taken so long. I cannot fathom why it has ever been alright to treat women this way.”

Christine Chinkin, professor of law at LSE and head of the new centre, said it would provide an opportunity to further her long-term commitment “to ending the marginalisation of woman’s human rights in academia, including the right of women to be free from all forms of violence”.

Yessssssss – I would love to see that marginalization and normalization ended. Good luck to them.


  1. k_machine says

    In London? At least it will be a short trip to nab the people who ran the UK’s rape camps in Kenya in the 1950s (LOL, this will never happen). The West: we care deeply about war crimes, except for the ones we could easily prosecute.

  2. says

    To nab the people who ran the UK’s rape camps in Kenya in the 1950s? You’re confident they’re still alive, are you? If they were running anything in the 1950s they’re at least in their 90s by now.

  3. Anne Fenwick says

    I wish them luck, but I think we already know that where social and moral order breaks down, where there is no longer any likelihood of accountability from law or peers and even the perpetrator’s long term survival is in question, quite a lot of people will help themselves to anything they want, anytime they can. Candy from babies, sex from whoever takes their fancy (often women), loot from abandoned homes and shops, whatever… The tough thing is going to be finding an effective solution. Prosecution is fine after the fact, but I don’t think it will work as prevention where perpetrators are probably not in a normal state of consciousness anyway and expect to find themselves beyond the reach of international law* through death or victory in any case.

    * I really wasn’t able to write the words ‘international law’ with a straight face either.

  4. says

    Yes but it’s not just a matter of men helping themselves to goodies. It is also a literal weapon, all the more so in places where bullshit ideas about “honor” and “purity” are mixed up with what’s between the legs of women. Working on the ideas is part of the solution here.

  5. Blanche Quizno says

    @1: We are usually more interested in fixing other people’s problems than our own. Especially when that can be used as a pretense for helping ourselves to their stuff.

  6. quixote says

    Every kind of props to Jolie. Good for her! And for all the people she’s helping / will help. Although she’s being polite, saying she has “no idea” why women are treated worse than furniture.

    Which brings up the interesting paradox of trying to fight a crime without being able to name it. Because women everywhere are so much like furniture, it would cause offense to point that out.

  7. johnthedrunkard says

    Girls as young as nine? Jolie can’t fathom?
    Despite the immediate whatabouttery in re Kenya, NINE is a number with a very specific precedent. And being pushed as the age legal marriage all around the Islamosphere.

    NB: age of marriage ≠ age of ‘consent,’ consent being an Imperialist Western concept….

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