LONDON - Hollywood star Angelina Jolie said on Tuesday that a global summit to end sexual violence in wars must send the message that there is "no disgrace" in being a rape survivor and that "the shame is on the aggressor".
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said at the opening of the four-day conference in London that it was only a "weak or inadequate man" that abuses women - a statement that drew cheers from the crowd.
The conference is the fruit of a two-year campaign by UN special envoy Ms Jolie and Mr Hague, who have visited the Democratic Republic of Congo and Bosnia to meet victims of rape during wars.
In her opening remarks to the End Sexual Violence in Conflict summit, Ms Jolie said she and Mr Hague had met a woman in Bosnia who was still too ashamed to tell her son that she had been raped.
"This day is for her," said Ms Jolie. "We believe it truly is a summit like no other."
In a speech greeted by rapturous applause, Ms Jolie said: "We must send a message around the world that there is no disgrace in being a survivor of sexual violence, that the shame is on the aggressor."
She said it is a "myth" that rape was inevitable in war.
"There is nothing inevitable about it - it is a weapon of war aimed at civilians. It has nothing to do with sex, everything to do with power," the Hollywood star said.
Ms Jolie said she had met rape survivors in countries including Afghanistan and Somalia, and they are "just like us, with one crucial difference".
"We live in safe countries with doctors we can go to when we're hurt, police we can turn to when we're wronged, and institutions that protect us," she said. "They live in refugee camps, on bombed-out streets, in areas where there is no law, no protection, and not even the hope of justice."