Sophie Wessex teams up with Angelina Jolie to tackle sexual violence

The Countess of Wessex has joined forces with Angelina Jolie in urging world leaders to ‘end the silence’ around sexual violence against women in conflict.

Writing in the Telegraph ahead of International Women’s Day, Sophie called on those in power to help end rape and sexual violence in war zones and to follow the UK’s lead by ‘putting more women and girls at the centre of conflict resolution’.

The wife of Prince Edward, 54, is working alongside the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI), launched by actress Angelina Jolie and former foreign secretary William Hague.

Sophie met with Jolie, a UNHCR special envoy, in November at the Fighting Stigma Through Film festival in London.

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Sophie Wessex has teamed up with Angelina Jolie (pictured together in London in November 2018) in urging world leaders to 'end the silence' around sexual violence in war zones

Sophie Wessex has teamed up with Angelina Jolie (pictured together in London in November 2018) in urging world leaders to 'end the silence' around sexual violence in war zones

Sophie Wessex has teamed up with Angelina Jolie (pictured together in London in November 2018) in urging world leaders to ‘end the silence’ around sexual violence in war zones

Sophie (pictured in Cumbria last month) has called on those in power to help end rape and sexual violence in war zones and to follow the UK's lead by 'putting more women and girls at the centre of conflict resolution'

Sophie (pictured in Cumbria last month) has called on those in power to help end rape and sexual violence in war zones and to follow the UK's lead by 'putting more women and girls at the centre of conflict resolution'

Sophie (pictured in Cumbria last month) has called on those in power to help end rape and sexual violence in war zones and to follow the UK’s lead by ‘putting more women and girls at the centre of conflict resolution’

Around the same time, she met with Nobel Peace laureate Denis Mukwege, a , Congolese gynaecologist nicknamed ‘Doctor Miracle’ for his surgical skill and dedication in helping women overcome the injuries and trauma of sexual abuse and rape.

Sophie recalled a conversation at the roundtable discussion in which Dr. Mukwege said the biggest obstacle in tackling the problem is the ‘silence’ around discussing issue.

Dr. Mukwege’s Panzi hospital has treated tens of thousands of victims of sexual violence in his war-weary native province of South Kivu, part of an eastern region riven by a conflict involving government forces and countless rebel groups. 

His work, which focuses on ‘atrocities on women’s bodies’, was the subject of an acclaimed 2015 film titled The Man Who Mends Women. 

Sophie (pictured during a visit to the Isle of Wight in September 2018) was told that the biggest obstacle in tackling the problem is the 'silence' around discussing issue

Sophie (pictured during a visit to the Isle of Wight in September 2018) was told that the biggest obstacle in tackling the problem is the 'silence' around discussing issue

Sophie (pictured during a visit to the Isle of Wight in September 2018) was told that the biggest obstacle in tackling the problem is the ‘silence’ around discussing issue

Angelina Jolie (pictured with Jeremy Hunt at a PSVI meeting in November 2018) co-founded the organisation to help women affected by sexual violence in countries like South Sudan and the Democratic Republic Of Congo

Angelina Jolie (pictured with Jeremy Hunt at a PSVI meeting in November 2018) co-founded the organisation to help women affected by sexual violence in countries like South Sudan and the Democratic Republic Of Congo

Angelina Jolie (pictured with Jeremy Hunt at a PSVI meeting in November 2018) co-founded the organisation to help women affected by sexual violence in countries like South Sudan and the Democratic Republic Of Congo

Sophie recalled a conversation at the roundtable discussion in which Nobel Laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege, pictured, said the biggest obstacle in tackling the problem is the 'silence'

Sophie recalled a conversation at the roundtable discussion in which Nobel Laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege, pictured, said the biggest obstacle in tackling the problem is the 'silence'

Sophie recalled a conversation at the roundtable discussion in which Nobel Laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege, pictured, said the biggest obstacle in tackling the problem is the ‘silence’

Jolie’s initiative, the PSVI, has worked tirelessly to help women affected by sexual violence in war-torn countries like South Sudan and the Democratic Republic Of Congo. 

Writing in the Telegraph today, Sophie praised the work of the organisation as well as that of Women, Peace and Security (WPS) which aims to reduce the devastating impact of war on women and girls. 

Speaking about the problems faced by women in conflict zones, she said: ‘The consequences of conflict do not go away when the guns are laid down.’

The Countess of Wessex has made women’s issues a cornerstone of her humanitarian work and founded the Women’s Network Forum in 2014.  

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