Nobel Peace Prize honors fight against sexual violence in war

Sergio Conner
October 6, 2018

The winners were named Friday by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

"Both laureates have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes", said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee during the announcement on Friday.

DR Congo on Friday congratulated crusading Nobel Peace Prize victor Denis Mukwege for his "very important work" in helping women recover from rape and sexual abuse but accused him of mixing humanitarian work and politics. Working with colleagues at Panzi Hospital, he supports brutalized women.

The number of women and girls raped in eastern Congo is unknown, but experts and campaigners say the scale is enormous.

Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege and Yazidi activist Nadia Murad have each won this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

The hospital's original mission was to curb maternal mortality rates.

In 2016, Mukwege said there were "unbearable atrocities" being committed in the country's east, including the mutilation of babies and the disembowelling of pregnant women. "She had been raped with extreme violence".

Mukwege has received multiple threats for carrying out his work.

Shortly before that attack, he had denounced mass rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo and impunity for it in a speech at the United Nations. His mantra: "justice is everyone's business", the committee said.

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Women like Nadia Murad, who have the strength to overcome this pain and refuse to be treated like victims all their lives are rare. At 19, she was raped, beaten and tortured before managing to escape after three months.

After her escape, Murad was named a United Nations ambassador for victims of human trafficking.

The jihadists organized slave markets for selling off the women and girls, and Yazidi women were forced to renounce their religion.

Murad, who is in her mid-20s, has spoken extensively about her experience, despite the enormous shame her culture associates with rape - many Yazidi survivors refuse to be named. "Hallelujah!" one man cried as women wiped their eyes. "Survivors deserve a safe and secure pathway home or safe passage elsewhere", she said in an online statement, later that day. Fellow laureate Nadia Murad is the witness who tells of the abuses perpetrated against herself and others.

Denis Mukwege, 63 is an outspoken critic of the abuse of women in war. Like Murad, Mulwege is the first person from his country to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel Peace Committee praised Murad's courage because she did not accept the social codes that require women to remain silent and shamed after abuse.

The prize for the joint winners includes SEK 9,000,000 ($1,110,000) which will be paid next year.

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