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LRA abductee testifies at London summitPublish Date: Jun 12, 2014
LRA abductee testifies at London summit
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US actress and UN special envoy Angelina Jolie (C) poses for a picture with Esther Atim (L) and former Kitgum Woman MP Jane Akwero Odong at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London. PHOTO/AFP
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By Joyce Namutebi and Agencies
 
A woman kidnapped as a nine-year-old by Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels has testified at a summit on ending sexual violence in war.
 
Esther Atim, now 20, described being captured by rebels in Uganda and being subjected to rape and forced labour.
Actress and UN special envoy Angelina Jolie and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, who are co-hosting the London event, were among those present.
 
The three-day summit, which opened on June 10 at Excel Centre in London, is the result of an intense two-year campaign to raise awareness.
 
The Global Summit on Sexual Violence in Conflict aims at launching an international protocol for documenting and investigating sexual violence in conflict, and encouraging countries to strengthen domestic laws to enable prosecutions.
 
 US actress and UN special envoy Angelina Jolie listening to a sexual violence victim narrating her ordeal during the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London. PHOTO/AFP
 
It also aims at urging countries to train all soldiers and peacekeepers to prevent sexual violence, calls for increased funding to support survivors of sexual violence and changing attitudes towards rape in conflict.
 
Government of Uganda battled the Joseph Kony led LRA in Northern Uganda for two decades. 
The war left hundreds dead and many maimed and traumatised.
 
The rebels were defeated and fled to Central Africa Republic jungles, where they are being hunted. 
 
 Atim described how she was taken from the village of Ojone, in north-eastern Uganda, in 2003. 
 
She said she was forced to watch a man hacked to death in front of her and was then kept for three years across the border in Sudan, where she endured repeated rapes.
 
Eventually she made her escape under cover of darkness.
 
 Angelina Jolie addressing the congregation during the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London. PHOTO/AFP
 
"I managed to sneak out, I started running, seriously, but I had no energy. I was seriously raped. I couldn't walk."
She waved her arms to her sides in a grim illustration of her condition: "My legs were like this. I could not run. I fell down. But I ran and ran and ran."
 
Following  Atim's testimony, Angelina Jolie told the BBC: "There's not one word to describe something like that. It's profound, it's very important, she's an extraordinary woman, she's so brave."
 
Speaking to the BBC after meeting the film star, Atim said her visit to London was her first trip away from Uganda, where she has now joined an NGO working with vulnerable women in the north of the country.
 
Countries taking part in the summit include Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.
 
In the two years since Hague and Jolie launched their campaign, a Declaration of commitment to end sexual violence in conflict has been endorsed by 141 countries. 
 
Angelina Jolie looks at products made by women and sold by the International campaign to stop rape and gender violence to support victims of violence, at the market area during  the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London. PHOTO/AFP

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