Sophie, Countess of Wessex joined Angelina Jolie on Friday at the Fighting Stigma through Film Festival at the British Film Institute. The Festival features thirty-five films based on the discrimination and social stigma caused by rape and other sexual assaults in war zones, from fourteen filmmakers from countries including Russia, Burma, Nigeria and Syria. The Festival itself is an offshoot from the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict campaign started by Jolie and the then Foreign Secretary, William Hague in 2012.
Perhaps for too many of us the concept of sexual violence in conflict is something which is only found in history books and from a time over a thousand years ago. But as Angelina says for all too many people the problem is in the here and now; “changing attitudes and laws, and challenging stigma and impunity for sexual violence in all our societies is the work of generations. It’s all of you, it’s all of us together.” She added, “From the start, the PSViC has been about bringing together survivors, civil society and legal experts to work with government to work together to affect change; not government telling civil society or survivors what needs to be done, but listening to and supporting the voices of those directly involved.”
The Countess, who was joined by the current Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, at the event has been out to many conflict zones across the world and see deprivation as she looks at the work the many charities she is involved with. Whether it is seeing the work first hand of those attending to people with eye conditions in Asia or as patron of an organisation in the Eastern Cape in South Africa working to unlock the potential of rural communities, Sophie has seen it all.
She also works with her husband, Prince Edward with the global organisation that is the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme – something which aims to give a good value set and self-confidence to those who are growing up. Hopefully through that and the work of organisations like those championed by Angelina Jolie, that even in the event of future conflict there is also a mutual respect for the peoples of each side.