Iraqi, African sex assault activists win 2018 Nobel Peace Prize

The Norwegian Nobel Committee jointly awarded the annual Nobel Peace Prize Friday to two people who’ve fought against rape being used as a “weapon of war.”

Nadia Murad, pictured here, and Denis Mukwege were jointly awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict" on Friday. Murad is a prominent Yazidi human rights activist and survivor of Islamic State violence. Photo courtesy of the U.S. State Department | License Photo
Nadia Murad, pictured here, and Denis Mukwege were jointly awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict” on Friday. Murad is a prominent Yazidi human rights activist and survivor of Islamic State violence. Photo courtesy of the U.S. State Department | License Photo

The recipients of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize are Denis Mukwege of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nadia Murad, a member of the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq.
Both received the award for “efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict,” a Norwegian Nobel Committee statement said.

“Both put their personal security at risk by courageously combating war crimes and seeking justice for the victims.”

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Murad has been a victim of war crimes herself.

“She refused to accept the social codes that require women to remain silent and ashamed of the abuses to which they have been subjected,” the committee said. “She has shown uncommon courage in recounting her own sufferings and speaking up on behalf of other victims.”

Murad lived in a remote village of Kocho at a time of a 2014 Islamic State attack aimed at exterminating the Yazidi population through ethnic cleansing and sexual violence as a “weapon of war.”

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Several hundred people in her village were killed and younger women, including minors, were kidnapped and held captive as sex slaves. Murad, as one of the captives, was repeatedly subject to abuse and was one of 3,000 Yazidi girls captured by the Islamic State army. She managed to escape after three months and gathered the courage to speak openly about her suffering.

Murad was named the United Nations’ first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking in 2016 at age 23.

Mukwege, a physician, has helped sex assault victims in the Congo.

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Along with his staff, he has treated thousands of assault victims since the Panzi Hospital was established in Bukavu in 2008. Abuses were committed during a long civil war that killed 6 million Congolese people.

“The importance of Dr. Mukwege’s enduring, dedicated and selfless efforts in this field cannot be overstated,” the committee said. “He has repeatedly condemned impunity for mass rape and criticized the Congolese government and other countries for not doing enough to stop the use of sexual violence against women as a strategy and weapon of war.”

The panel said his basic principle is that “justice is everyone’s business.”

BySommer Brokaw