Nobel Peace Prize for Denis Mukwege & Nadia Murad

Nobel Peace Prize 2018 has been awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their effort to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict as per announcement by Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Nobel Committee on Friday October 5, 2018 in the Norwegian capital, Oslo. 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.  Berit announced, “Both the laureates have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on and combatting such war crimes” and added, “Each of them, in their own way, has helped to give greater visibility to wartime sexual violence so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions”.

Dan Smith, Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said, “Rape in war has been a crime for centuries. But it was a crime in the shadows. The two laureates have both shone a light on it.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the award was part of a growing movement to recognise the violence and injustice faced by women, and stated, “Let us honour these new Nobel laureates by standing up for victims of sexual violence everywhere”.

Denis Mukwege, a Gynaecologist, heads the Panzi Hospital he founded in the eastern Congo city of Bukavu in 1999, treated more than 50,000 women victims of sexual violence, many of them requiring surgery from sexual violence, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where a long-running civil war, that claimed around six million lives, although the Second Congo War formally ended in 2003, violence remains rampant, with militias frequently targeting civilians. Mukwege is the helper who has devoted his life to defending the victims and campaigned to highlight their plight. He also provides HIV/AIDS treatment as well as free maternal care. The Panzi Hospital has also been the target of threats and in 2012 Mukwege’s home was invaded by armed men who held his daughters at gunpoint, shot at him and killed his bodyguard.

Dr. Mukwege, a past winner of the United Nations Human Rights Prize and the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, dedicated his Nobel award to all women affected by rape and sexual violence, he said that the prize was an important recognition of many women’s trauma, and added, “Dear survivors all over the world, I would like to tell you that through this prize, the world is listening to you and rejects indifference, the world refuses to stand idly by in the face of your suffering”.

Wivine Moleka, a member of Congo’s ruling PPRD party, said Mukwege was more than just a doctor, and added, “He is a humanist who has taken the pain of women into consideration, pain in their flesh and in their soul. The prize sends a strong signal to everyone about these women who are raped every day”.

Nadia Murad, 25, a human rights activist for the Yazidi minority in Iraq and for refugee and women’s rights in general. She was enslaved and raped by Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Iraq. Murad was 21 in 2014 when IS militants attacked her 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 other young women in her village, she was taken into captivity by the militants, and sold repeatedly for sex as part of IS’s slave trade. The abuses were systematic and part of a military strategy. They served as a weapon in the fight against Yazidis and other religious minorities. She escaped with the help of a Sunni Muslim family in Mosul, then IS’s de facto capital in Iraq, and became an advocate for the rights of her community around the world.

Murad published in 2017, a memoir of her ordeal, The Last Girl. She recounted in harrowing detail her months in captivity, her escape and her journey to activism. “At some point, there was rape and nothing else. This becomes your normal day,” she wrote.

The United Nations has called the assaults launched by the militants against the religious minority in northern Iraq a campaign of genocide.

Murad, who is also a Sakharov Prize winner, is the second youngest Nobel Prize laureate after Malala Yousafzai.

Murad dedicated the award to her mother and said she shared the award “with all Yazidis with all the Iraqis, Kurds and all the minorities and all survivors of sexual violence around the world,” and in a statement to using Arabic term for Islamic State, she added, “For myself, I think of my mother, who was murdered by Daesh”.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi congratulated her on the award, and Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi member of Iraq’s parliament, said: “It is the victory of good and peace over the forces of darkness.”

The award 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 Chairwoman 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.”

The Nobel Peace Prize announcement in the Norwegian capital was the culmination of a week in which Nobel laureates have been named in medicine, physics and chemistry. However, for the first time since 1949, the Swedish Academy has postponed the announcement of the 2018 Nobel Literature Prize until next year, amid a #MeToo scandal over sexual misconduct allegations saw a string of members leave the board of the Swedish Academy that awards it and bitter internal dispute that has prevented it from functioning properly.

The prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace have been awarded since 1901 in accordance with the will of Swedish business tycoon Alfred Nobel, whose discovery of dynamite generated a vast fortune used to fund the prize.

Last 10 winners of Nobel Peace Prize:

2017: International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
2016: Juan Manuel Santos
2015: The National Dialogue Quartet
2014: Kailash Satyarthi, Malala Yousafzai
2013: The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
2012: The European Union
2011: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman
2010: Liu Xiaobo
2009: Barack Obama

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