Nicole Kidman highlights violence against women

Actress Nicole Kidman speaks during the "International Violence Against Women: Stories and Solutions" hearing on October 21 in Washington, DC. Kidman is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Fund for Women and said in her address that violence against women and girls was "perhaps the most systematic, widespread human rights violation in the world".

WASHINGTON (AFP) - – Bringing a splash of Hollywood glamour to Capitol Hill, Australian movie star Nicole Kidman has testified before lawmakers as part of her effort to stop violence against women around the world.

Kidman, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), told Congress on Wednesday that violence against women and girls was "perhaps the most systematic, widespread human rights violation in the world.

"I am far from an expert, I rely on the people I've met to make the case," admitted the actress, adding that it "recognizes no borders, no race or class."

Representatives at a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee have been hearing testimony as they debate the International Violence Against Women Act, which could influence US foreign policy in relations with countries where women's rights are not respected.

Kidman said systematic rape in ethnic conflict, forced marriage at an early age and domestic violence required treatment "not with a box of band aids but with a comprehensive, well-funded approach that acknowledges that women's rights are human rights."

Kidman, who once starred in the controversial Lars von Trier film "Dogville" as an on-the-run woman who was repeatedly raped, was asked by one representative whether Hollywood could be accused of legitimizing violence against women, the actress replied: "Probably so, but it has also contributed to solutions."

She described her work with UNIFEM as "incredibly inspiring" and vowed to continued working for "the rest of (her) life."

During the hearings, NGO representatives said one in three women worldwide have been victim of rape or beating at some point in their life; more than half of the world's sexual assaults are committed against girls younger than 15.

In the United States, 89,000 cases of rape were reported last year.