As we sit in the middle of what feels like a never-ending monsoon of victims coming forward to accuse powerful men of sexual assault and harassment, Angelina Jolie is making sure the world knows why this reckoning is so important. In her keynote address to the U.N. Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial Conference in Vancouver on Wednesday, People reports that the actress reminded the room that "sexual violence is everywhere." Hollywood isn't the only industry that's doing some serious reflecting, and Jolie emphasised that just because this movement is happening now doesn't mean these instances of violence weren't occurring before — they just weren't taken seriously.
"All too often, these kinds of crimes against women are laughed off, depicted as a minor offence by someone who cannot control themselves, as an illness, or as some kind of exaggerated sexual need," she said. "But a man who mistreats women is not oversexed. He is abusive."
"I had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth, and as a result, chose never to work with him again and warn others when they did," she told the Times. And while this decision didn't stop her career, other women who take a stand against their predators aren't so lucky. In her speech, Jolie describes sexual abuse as "cheaper than a bullet," and one of the biggest obstacles for women working to achieve equal rights.
"Even if we accept that sexual violence has nothing to do with sex, that it is a crime, and that it is used as a weapon, many people still believe that it is simply not possible to do anything about it," she added, but she wants to make clear that that's not the case. "We have the laws, the institutions, and the expertise in gathering evidence. We are able to identify perpetrators. What is missing is the political will."
Now, at least, it sounds like the tides are turning.
If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.
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