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Pitt joins Jolie at war rape summit

Foreign Secretary William Hague (centre), Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie arrive at the End Sexual Violence in Conflict Summit at the Excel centre in east London.
Foreign Secretary William Hague (centre), Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie arrive at the End Sexual Violence in Conflict Summit at the Excel centre in east London.

Hollywood heartthrob Brad Pitt added even more star power as he joined partner Angelina Jolie and "Team Hague" at a global summit to end war zone rape.

The superstar couple put on a public display of affection - putting their arms around one another - as they stopped to look at a picture in a gallery on the third day of the summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict (ESVC).

Human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin, who has become engaged to Pitt's friend and fellow pin-up George Clooney, was also at the event.

Jolie, who is special envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, is co-chairing the summit with Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Pitt and Jolie posed for a large press pack on their arrival at the ExCeL exhibition centre in London's Docklands - with Pitt's unexpected presence sparking much excitement.

Pitt, who starred alongside Jolie in Mr & Mrs Smith, looked on from the front row as Jolie and Mr Hague delivered speeches to an audience of officials and delegates from around the world.

Baroness Warsi, who was sitting in the row behind the star, could be heard joking with one woman before Pitt took his seat: "This is Team Hague."

Ms Alamuddin was listening to the speeches from the audience at the opposite side of the auditorium to where Jolie and Pitt were sitting.

The Oxford-educated barrister, who has represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, has been described as a "passionate defender of human rights".

Beirut-born Alamuddin is a member of Doughty Street Chambers in London, having joined in 2010 to complete her pupillage.

On a frantic walkabout through an exhibition hall, the couple were trailed by fans eager to get a picture, and at one point people fell over in the commotion.

In the picture gallery, they paused at a picture of Zawadi Nikuze who lives in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

It was here they embraced each other for a few moments.

Ms Nikuze has been the victim of violence, including one incident when armed men invaded her home looking for money.

She now helps rape victims.

Jolie and Mr Hague have launched an international protocol which they hope will "really, truly end impunity" when it comes to sexual violence in conflict.

In her speech this morning, Jolie said: "We are here for the nine-year-old girl in Uganda, kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery.

"We are here for the man in Bosnia, years after rape, still stigmatised, unable to earn enough money to buy bread for his family.

"We are here for all the forgotten, hidden survivors who have been made to feel ashamed or been abandoned.

"And for the children of rape - we want the whole world to hear their stories and understand that this injustice cannot be tolerated, and that sorrow and compassion are not enough."

The audience was shown short film clips featuring the hashtag TimeToAct, which is now trending on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the coming together of an "unlikely double act" - Jolie and Mr Hague - is an example of how foreign policy should be conducted in future, the Conservative politician has said.

The combination of Jolie's star power along with government can be "formidable", Mr Hague said last night.

He also said the film star was "a pleasure to work with".

He said: "My admiration for her work has grown even greater over the last two years.

"She has the power to speak to the whole world, to raise awareness, change attitudes.

"Governments like the one I am a member of hold in their hands levers of decision-making and action.

"And this combination can be formidable.

"And is in many respects a strong example of the future of foreign policy and how it should be conducted.

"It's no longer the sole preserve of governments."

He said Jolie brings "vast expertise", adding: "She is an inspiration."

Jolie was dressed in an entirely black outfit, having been in white for the first two days of the summit.

Reminiscent of their matching suits at this year's Bafta awards, Jolie's outfit of tuxedo-style jacket and trousers was similar to Pitt's dark suit.

UNICEF UK ambassador Jemima Khan said it is important to remember the children's lives devastated by rape in war and that sexual violence in conflict is not just a women's issue. "Too many girls and boys living in conflict zones around the world face this daily, terrifying threat.

"Some are targeted in attacks on their villages or others when they are forced into armed groups.

"Often something as simple as collecting firewood to allow the family to cook an evening meal can put a child living in conflict at terrible risk of attack," she said. Ms Khan says she has met vulnerable children all over the world.

"In Pakistan I met a seven year-old boy whose parents had both been killed.

"He was bringing up his three younger siblings in a refugee camp. Children such as these are especially vulnerable to abuse," she said.

Alice Allan, global head of advocacy at CARE International and adviser to Mr Hague on his Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, said "root causes" need to be dealt with.

She talked about the importance of "teaching boys to challenge their attitudes towards women".

She said: "We will not end war zone rape unless we tackle its root causes. From Nigeria to India, sickening attacks on women and girls are a daily occurrence around the world.

"Ministers attending the summit must use this moment to galvanise action to shift global attitudes to women. "Gender inequality is not a 'women's issue' - it concerns every member of every society.

"Men and boys can and must be allies and champions for change and this, in turn, can stop the cycle of violence from spreading to the next generation.

"We are calling for governments around the world to recognise that teaching boys to challenge their attitudes towards women by learning about respectful relationships and inequality can help prevent sexual violence, both in times of peace and during conflict."

Justin Forsyth, CEO of Save the Children, said we "cannot underestimate the leadership shown" by Jolie and Mr Hague in bringing the world's foreign ministers together on the third day of the summit.

"The true measure of the summit's success will be realised today when ministers set out their commitments to ending sexual violence in conflict.

"The time to act is right now and ministers must step up to the mark and ensure perpetrators of these horrific crimes committed against adults and children are brought to justice," he said.


From Belfast Telegraph