By Maya Hariz
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2018 was awarded on the 5th of October 2018, jointly to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for being leaders of the struggle against sexual violence. This was a choice that will give greater recognition of an important but long-neglected problem.
This award may also bring hope to victims worldwide and let them know that their suffering and voices had been heard.
Dr. Denis Mukwege, 63, a gynecologist based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has spent decades caring and treating thousands of women who had been sexually assaulted in his homeland. The Norwegian Nobel committee said that Mukwege was jointly awarded the prize “for his efforts to end sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.”
Dr. Mukwege is also the founder of and medical director of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Congo.
In early October 2012, Dr. Mukwege was violently attacked and his family was held at gunpoint at his home. The attack came several weeks after Dr. Mukwege denounced the country’s 16-year-long conflict. Later in September in a speech to the UN, he called for tr those responsible to the attack on his home.
Nadia Murad bravely shared her experience being captured and sold into sexual slavery by the Islamic State (IS). In her story, she describes her mental and physical state and how one day when a door was left open she took the chance to escape.
In November 2014, she became an activist for the Yazidi people and campaigns to help put an end to human trafficking calling on the world to take a tougher line on rape as a weapon of war. Murad is extraordinarily brave for sharing her story, even if it meant revisiting all of the mental and physical torture.
The Nobel Prize committee also said that the winners had “put their own personal security at risk by courageously combating war crimes and securing justice for victims.”
Congratulations started to flood in, including from past winners Malala Yousafzai, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and the heads of NATO and the European Council.