Angelina Jolie has given a heartbreaking account of girls she has met in conflict zones who have been repeatedly raped and sold off for as little as $40 each.
The Hollywoood star and UN special envoy for refugees appeared alongside former Foreign Secretary William Hague before the House of Lords Committee, to speak about their campaign against sexual violence in conflict.
Jolie described how she had felt “absolutely helpless” after meeting one young girl who refused to speak to anyone after being “brutally raped multiple times”.
She said what was even worse than the physical violence was the feeling of worthlessness they felt when men bartered over their monetary value when selling them off as sex slaves.
Jolie is a long-standing campaigner on sexual violence in conflict and in 2011 she made the film In the Land of Blood and Honey, highlighting the widespread rape committed during the Bosnian war in the 1990s.
She met Mr Hague at a screening of the film and the pair have worked closely together ever since, hosting the End Sexual Violence in Conflict global summit in London last year where they brought together officials and charity leaders from more than 100 countries to campaign for the rights of victims of sexual violence.
She said: “For over 10 years I had been visiting the field and meeting with families and survivors of sexual violence who felt for so long that their voices simply didn’t matter – they weren’t heard and they carried a great shame.
“I remember distinctly meeting this little girl, who was very young – probably about 7 or 8 – and she was rocking backwards and forwards and staring at the wall and tears streaming down her face because she had been brutally raped multiple times.
“You couldn’t talk to her, you couldn’t touch her; I felt absolutely helpless and din’t know what to do for her.
“More recently I met a 13-year-old girl in Iraq who had been kept in a room with many other girls and they were taken out in twos, brought to this very dirty room with this dirty couch and raped repeatedly.
“But they told me what was even worse than the physical violence was that they then had to stand in rooms and watch their friends be sold and to hear men arguing what they were worth.
“Were they worth $40? $50? What was the price of them? What was their value? And [they described] how humiliating that was and how demoralising. And it made her question what she was worth.”