Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for Fighting Sexual Violence



The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded today to two campaigners against wartime sexual violence: Dr. Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecological surgeon, and Nadia Murad, who became the dignified face of the women forced into sexual slavery by the Islamic State group.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said the two were given the award “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.”

Dr. Mukwege, who risked his life in a campaign to end the use of mass rape as a weapon of war, works in one of the most traumatized places in the world: the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a bare hospital in the hills above Bukavu, where for years there was little electricity or enough anesthetic, Dr. Mukwege has performed surgery on countless women who have trudged into his hospital a few steps away from death. At the same time, he has campaigned relentlessly to shine a spotlight on the plight of Congolese women, even after nearly being assassinated a few years ago.

Ms. Murad was abducted alongside thousands of other women and girls from the Yazidi minority when Islamic State overran her homeland in northern Iraq in 2014, and she was singled out for rape by the group, also known as ISIS.

Whereas the majority of women who escaped ISIS refused to be named, Ms. Murad insisted to reporters that she wanted to be identified and photographed. She embarked on a worldwide campaign, telling and retelling her story of suffering to the United Nations Security Council, the United States House of Representatives, Britain’s House of Commons and numerous other global bodies.

Ms. Murad has said that she was exhausted by having to repeatedly speak out, but she knew that other Yazidi women were being raped back home: “I will go back to my life when women in captivity go back to their lives, when my community has a place, when I see people accountable for their crimes.”

Her activism helped persuade the United States State Department to recognize the genocide of her people at the hands of ISIS. In 2016, she was named the United Nations’ first good-will ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. She recounted her life story in a recently published autobiography, “The Last Girl.”

Culled from TheNewYorkTimes.

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