“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,” said the Hollywood superstar actress, Angelina Jolie in her address at the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial Summit held in Vancouver on Wednesday.
“Half of the patients treated for rape have reportedly been under the age of 18,” she added.
Myanmar soldiers “systematically targeted” Rohingya women for gang-rape during violence against the minority Muslim community which triggered an exodus to Bangladesh, a UN special envoy said.
Jolie, who is the Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, highlighted the plight of Rohingya women fleeing Myanmar’s Rakhine State and seeking shelter in the refugee camps in the neighboring Bangladesh.
“But sexual violence is a weapon, used to deliberate effect, to achieve military or political objectives.
“It is cheaper than a bullet, and it has lasting consequences, that unfold with sickening predictability,” she said in her keynote address,.
However, she added, 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.
“Conflict-related sexual violence is clearly understood as a crime, it is treated as a lesser crime,” she said.
In her address, Jolie also wonders why nothing has changed even though sexual violence is considered as a crime, and asked the United Nations delegates to imagine the following scenario:
Imagine your hometown. The street where you live. A conflict has broken out in your country. One night, the trucks roll in and your street is surrounded and blocked off. Men with guns pour off those trucks and start breaking down doors. They go from house to house in your street, and in the course of that one night they rape every woman or girl they find, in front of their families. And possibly some of the men.
Now think how you and your family would be affected. That night. The next day. For the months and years to come. The impact upon you all. The emotional pain and trauma. The stigma, the shame, the physical and mental illness.
How broken you would feel that you were unable to stop this from happening to your family members. How bitter you would feel at being told, months or years later, that you have to move on and forget, because there is now a peace agreement and justice for your families is less important.
This is the reality for millions of families today. It is happening day in and day out, and more often than not, we know about it. It is on our television screens and in our newspapers. Why then, does nothing really change?
-Malaysia World News