Angelina Jolie Shares How She Broaches the Topic of Sexual Violence With Her Children
By Antoinette Bueno
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Angelina Jolie is leading by example.
The 43-year-old actress and UNCHR Special Envoy has been bringing awareness to fight the social stigma faced by survivors of sexual violence, and in a new interview with Marie Claire, she shares how that starts at home with her own children. Jolie has six kids with estranged husband Brad Pitt -- 16-year-old Maddox, 14-year-old Pax, 13-year-old Zahara, 12-year-old Shiloh and 10-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox.
Jolie notes that the the conversation about sexual violence has to include men and boys, as opposed to just women and girls.
"I don’t just speak to my daughters. I speak to them with their brothers," she says. "That is maybe the first most important distinction. This is not just a problem for women, and the solution is working with women and men. And girls and boys. Not only are men and boys also victims of these crimes, but those who are perpetrating these crimes need to have other men remind them what it really is to be a man. A man with a healthy relationship to women. And all societies need to be clear about not tolerating this behavior."
In 2012, Jolie and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague launched the global initiative Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.
"Sexual violence in conflict is still a taboo subject," Jolie notes. "Female and male survivors, and children born of this rape, are often treated as if they are the ones who have done something wrong. They are rejected and stigmatized, while their attackers go unpunished. That’s what has to change, and breaking the taboo is part of that."
"Our partners in this effort are victims speaking out, local NGOs and governments from around the world as well as militaries," she adds of her initiative. "We have to solve this comprehensively. We need to go to the heart of where there are abuses and make changes, and press for new practices and accountability. .... So we have to change laws as well as attitudes. And we have to find ways to have successful prosecutions, so that it is no longer a crime for which there is impunity."
Jolie also talked about how movies can help in the fight.
"I do think film has the power to make us live inside another person’s experience in a way that is unique and different," she explains. "But it is also a really important way of opening up a conversation, and saying that yes, these things happen or happened in our country and we need to address them. Too often after a war, sexual violence is the subject no one wants to talk about, that gets swept under the carpet. And if no one talks about it, there is no justice and no healing and no closure."
Meanwhile, Jolie continues to be open about raising her kids and the lessons she hopes to impart on them. In February, she revealed the advice she gives her daughters on womanhood. Watch the video below for more: