Kerry demands end to sexual violence in war zones

June 13, 2014
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Secretary of State John Kerry listens during a meeting between President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Thursday, June 12, 2014, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

LONDON (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for an end to rape and sexual violence in conflict zones as he joined actress Angelina Jolie and Britain's foreign minister Friday at a London conference on the topic.

Kerry said the world must stop looking away from the topic of rape and that it was time to "banish sexual violence to the dark ages in the history books."

"We will not tolerate rape as a tactic of war and intimidation," he said, adding the issue was personal to him as a war veteran and as the father of two daughters.

Kerry ended his speech with a rousing recital of Maya Angelou's poem "Still I Rise."

"We came here to send a message: We rise, we rise . Let's get the job done," he said, prompting a standing ovation.

Kerry was the guest speaker at the four-day event, billed as the largest gathering held on the topic. Hundreds of officials, diplomats, activists and survivors of rape in conflict zones attended to discuss ways to better prosecute offenders and protect victims.

Kerry's appeals echoed those by Jolie, a U.N. special envoy and co-host of the summit with British Foreign Secretary William Hague. The actress, who has campaigned on the topic with Hague for two years, urged all participants to keep lobbying for action.

"Our work is just beginning. The test we now face is whether we can make a difference on the ground," she said. "We can and will end impunity."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter also sent their support via video messages.