Angelina Jolie: Islamic State using rape as weapon of war

The special UNHCR envoy called for greater action against those responsible.

FILE: Angelina Jolie is a special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Picture: AFP.

LONDON - Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie warned on Tuesday that Islamic State was using rape as a weapon of war on a scale never seen before and called for greater action against those responsible.

Jolie, a special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and active campaigner against the use of sexual violence in conflict, said Islamic State was using rape as a "policy" and urged a "very strong response".

Thousands of women and girls have been abducted, raped and sold into sexual slavery by Islamic State since the militant group declared a caliphate across swathes of Syria and Iraq last summer, according to the United Nations and rights groups.

"The most aggressive terrorist group in the world today (is) using (rape) as a centerpoint of their terror and their way of destroying communities and families," she told a British parliamentary committee on Tuesday.

Oscar-winning Jolie, who joined forces with former British foreign secretary William Hague in 2012 to launch an initiative to prevent sexual violence in conflict, spoke about girls she had met in war zones who had been raped.

RAPE AS A POLICY

Last year, the pair hosted the world's first global summit on sexual violence in conflict in London involving representatives from around 150 countries that aimed to make tackling sexual violence in conflict a priority and end a culture of impunity for those responsible.

Speaking at a sexual violence in war committee in the British parliamentary to give evidence on the impact of the three-year old initiative, Jolie said Islamic State was dictating rape "as a policy" in Syria and Iraq.

"This is beyond something we have seen before," Jolie said.

"They are saying: "You should do this, this is the way to build a society, we ask you to rape". We really have to have a very strong response at this time to this particular group."

Critics have questioned the success of Hague and Jolie's initiative after it was reported that Britain spent five times more on the 2014 summit than on its budget dedicated to tackling rape in war zones.

But Hague defended the imitative, saying progress had been made and there was greater awareness about the need to tackle such crimes.