Angelina Jolie's Trip to the Congo Challenges the World to Stop War Zone Rape

angelina jolieIf the definition of "envoy" is "a messenger or representative, especially one on a diplomatic mission," then Angelina Jolie is certainly fulfilling her duty as special envoy for the U.N. refugee agency. This gig is the real deal, not the typical celeb PR stunt. And if the work she did last year on behalf of thousands of Syrian refugees didn't convince you, consider her recent trip to the eastern Congo to visit with victims of war zone rape -- women and girls desperately in need of a voice.

In case you didn't know (most people don't, which is the problem), sexual violence is often used as a "weapon of war" by both rebel groups and Congolese soldiers -- so there's essentially no safe place for women and girls. Over the past year, the International Rescue Committee has provided assistance to over 2,500 victims of war zone rape ... but there's only so much the organization can do.

For example, apparently risk of assault is especially high for women and girls as they bathe in creeks ... but since there's essentially no other option, the IRC hands out kits with flashlights, whistles and cleaning products in the hopes that they won't have to visit the creeks as frequently and that when they do, they'll have some sort of protection.

It's a horrible existence to contemplate. What these women really need, more than flashlights or whistles, is the world's attention. I have to believe that if more people knew about their situation, more would be done to help them (I have to believe that because otherwise I would get incredibly depressed, not because it's necessarily true). Either way, by meeting with these victims and telling their stories, Angelina Jolie is sending that global attention in their direction. The rest is up to us.

Did you know about the thousands of victims of war zone rape in the Congo?

 

Image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr

angelina jolie, celebs