Peace prize for duo's fight against sexual violence

Dr Denis Mukwege, 63, heads the Panzi Hospital in the Congolese city of Bukavu, which receives thousands of women who are victims of sexual violence requiring surgery. Ms Nadia Murad, 25, is an advocate for the Yazidi minority in Iraq and for refugee
Dr Denis Mukwege, 63, heads the Panzi Hospital in the Congolese city of Bukavu, which receives thousands of women who are victims of sexual violence requiring surgery. Ms Nadia Murad, 25, is an advocate for the Yazidi minority in Iraq and for refugee and women's rights. She was raped by ISIS militants in Mosul in 2014. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Congolese doctor who helps victims and activist who survived slavery under ISIS win Nobel Prize

OSLO • Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege, who helps victims of sexual violence, and Ms Nadia Murad, a Yazidi rights activist and survivor of sexual slavery by ISIS militants, won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize yesterday.

They were awarded the prize for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.

"Denis Mukwege is the helper who has devoted his life to defending these victims. Nadia Murad is the witness who tells of the abuses perpetrated against herself and others," it said in its citation.

Dr Mukwege, 63, heads the Panzi Hospital in the eastern Congolese city of Bukavu. Opened in 1999, the clinic receives thousands of women each year, many of them victims of sexual violence requiring surgery.

Although the Second Congo War, which killed more than five million people, formally ended in 2003, violence remains rampant, with militias frequently targeting civilians.

Dr Mukwege, a past winner of the United Nations Human Rights Prize and the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize, was in the operation room when he was told the news.

"I can see in the faces of many women how they are happy to be recognised," he told the Nobel Foundation in a recorded interview posted on the foundation's Twitter account, referring to the patients at Panzi Hospital.

 
 
 
 

Ms Murad is an advocate for the Yazidi minority in Iraq and for refugee and women's rights in general. She was enslaved and raped by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria fighters in Mosul, Iraq, in 2014.

Ms Murad, 25, who is also a Sakharov Prize winner, is the second-youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate after Malala Yousafzai, who in 2014 won the prize at age 17.

Ms Murad was 21 in 2014 when ISIS militants attacked the village where she had grown up in northern Iraq. The militants killed those who refused to convert to Islam, including six of her brothers and her mother.

Along with many of the other young women in her village, she was taken into captivity by the militants, and sold repeatedly for sex as part of the ISIS slave trade.

She eventually escaped captivity with the help of a Sunni Muslim family in Mosul, the de facto ISIS capital in Iraq, and became an advocate for the rights of her community around the world.

Ms Murad said yesterday that she was "incredibly honoured and humbled", adding that she shared the award with all Iraqis, Kurds, minorities and survivors of sexual violence worldwide.

The award of the prize follows a year in which the abuse and mistreatment of women in all walks of life across the globe has been a focus of attention.

Asked whether the #MeToo movement, a prominent women's rights activist forum, was an inspiration for this year's prize, Nobel Committee chairman Berit Reiss-Andersen said: "MeToo and war crimes are not quite the same. But they have in common that they see the suffering of women, the abuse of women and that it is important that women leave the concept of shame behind and speak up."

Last year's prize was awarded to anti-nuclear arms campaigner Ican.

The prize will be presented in Oslo on Dec 10, the anniversary of the death of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who founded the awards in his 1895 will.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2018, with the headline 'Peace prize for duo's fight against sexual violence'. Print Edition | Subscribe