• Frances Hui

Activists fighting against sexual violence receive 2018 Nobel Peace Prize

Image courtesy of Creative Commons

A sex slave woman of Islamic State and a Congolese gynecological surgeon were awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their effort to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Nadia Murad, 25, is a survivor of sexual slavery by ISIS, which overran her homeland Sinjar in northern Iraqi and seized her, alongside thousands of unmarried girls, from the Yazidi minority. After escaping from the site, she spoke at several meetings, including  the United Nations Security Council, the United States House of Representatives, the House of Commons in Britain and other international organizations to recognize Yazidi genocide and urge an end to sexual violence around the world. Nurad was made the United Nations’ first goodwill ambassador for the dignity of survivors of human trafficking in 2016.

Denis Mukwege, 65, known as “the man who mends women,” is a gynecological surgeon who founded a clinic in the Democratic Republic of Congo which aims to treat women who suffer from sexual violence and rape. In 2012, he spoke at the United Nations, reprimanding the Congolese government for not combating to end “an unjust war that has used violence against women and rape as a strategy of war.”

Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said: “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.”

Murad was in Cambridge, MA on Friday when she heard she was being awarded. “I share this award with Yazidis, Iraqis, Kurds, other persecuted minorities and all of the countless victims of sexual violence around the world,” she said in a statement.

Murad, whose mother and six brothers and stepbrothers were executed when she was taken as sex slave by ISIS, is the 17th woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and the second-youngest recipient after Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education who recovered from an assassination attempt. .

Mukwege said he wants to dedicate the prize to “women of all countries bruised by conflict and facing everyday violence.”

“This Nobel Prize reflects the recognition of suffering and the lack of a just reparation for women victims of rape and sexual violence in all countries of the world and on all continents,” he said.

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