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'Rabbis must speak out against war rape'

    Angelina Jolie at this week's summit in London
    Angelina Jolie at this week's summit in London

    Jewish faith leaders have a responsibility to speak out against sexual violence in war zones and tackle the culture of shame and humiliation that comes with it.

    That was the message from Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu, who spoke on an interfaith panel at a landmark summit in London, this week.

    The week-long conference, which is hosted by actress Angelina Jolie and Foreign Secretary William Hague, aims to encourage nations to combat violent sex attacks in countries being torn apart by war.

    Rabbi Ambalu, of Milton Keynes Reform Synagogue, said: "As faith leaders, we can be instrumental in teaching that acts of sexual violation in war are attacks on humanity as we know it.

    "People feel humiliated when these things happen to them; they feel the community will be ashamed of them, too. Religious leaders have a responsibility to say that we are not ashamed of the victims and they shouldn't feel ashamed of themselves either."

    She added: "I spoke to Angelina Jolie. She told me victims often say to her: 'where was God when this happened to me?' Angelina is right; it is an important question that faith leaders have a duty to answer."

    World Jewish Relief helped organise the discussion at the ExCel centre. Campaigns manager Richard Verber said: "We need to see more Jews speaking out about wider global issue of sexual violence. It is our job to reassure victims and tell them they are not to blame."

    Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni was due to take part in the summit on Thursday.

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