Nobel Peace Prize Awarded To Activists Fighting To End Sexual Violence In War

Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad won the award for their work towards ending the use of sexual assault as a weapon of war.

Nobel Peace Prize Awarded To Activists Fighting To End Sexual Violence In War

On Friday, the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Congolese doctor, Dr. Denis Mukwege, and human rights activist Nadia Murad, who was once a captive of the Islamic State group, for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

The pair "have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes," the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in its announcement.

Mukwege created a hospital in eastern Congo's Bukavo and has treated thousands of women patients, including many who are victims of rape or sexual violence. The hospital not only treats their physical ailments, but also provides counseling and treatment for psychological trauma in survivors. According to The Chicago Tribune, Mukwege had to temporarily leave the country in 2012 after armed men tried to kill him.

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Murad was among the 3,000 Yazidi women and children who were captured by the IS army and suffered rape and other abuses under their control. She escaped after three months in detainment and has since openly spoken out about her experiences.

"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," the committee said of the prize winners.

"We want to send a message that women who constitute half the population in those communities actually are used as weapons and that they need protection, and that the perpetrators have to be prosecuted and held responsible,"  Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairwoman of the Norwegian committee, told The Associated Press.

The award comes in the midst of the #MeToo movement, which has drawn increased awareness of sexual abuse of women both in the workplace and in social environments. But Reiss-Andersen says this year's award is honoring the global fight against sexual violence, although there are certain elements in common between the movement and the work of their honorees.

"MeToo and war crimes [are] not quite the same thing, but they do however have in common that it is important to see the suffering of women," she told AP.

Mukwege and Murad have yet to comment on the prestigious honor. Reiss-Andersen says it's common for laureates to learn of their win only moments before its announced in public.

Per CNN, last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) congratulated the pair, saying, "We look forward to working with them as Nobel laureates dedicated to a peaceful world safe from both the threats of nuclear weapons and the use of sexual violence in war, both fundamental violations of international law."

Cover image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

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