Congo’s Denis Mukweje and Yazidi activist Nadia Murad conferred Noble Peace Prize 2018 for their efforts to end sexual violence

  • October 8, 2018

A woman, held by her neck, is being dragged ruthlessly as if she was a lifeless object. As she cries in pain, the men surrounding her laugh at her helplessness. Thumping their chests as if they were indulging in an act of bravery, they violate her again and again and again.

She turns to her God but the pain is so intense that she can’t even bend to pray.

Another woman is stripped, tied and gang-raped in the middle of a village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), considered the ‘Rape Capital of the World.’ This is the place where the permission to invade and rape a village is often given as a ‘reward’ to the armed group by the commanders.

Their tears may have dried, the wounds may have healed, their bodies may have stopped bleeding but a part of the soul of these women has died forever.

This is the story of hundreds and thousands of victims of sexual violence living in the DRC, where rape is used as a weapon of war and torture.

While there are men who use a woman’s body as an outlet to vent out frustration, arrogance and mindless anger, there is also a man who has devoted his entire life to defending these victims.

His name is Denis Mukwege and he, along with Nadia Murad, a survivor of sexual violence by the Islamic State in Iraq, are the 2018 Noble Peace Prize winners.

Each of them in their own way has helped to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. They have worked tirelessly to give greater visibility to war-time sexual violence, so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions.

Since the Panzi Hospital was established in Bukavu in 1999, Dr. Mukwege and his staff have treated thousands of patients who have fallen victim to such assaults. Most of the abuses have been committed in the context of a long-lasting civil war that has cost the lives of more than six million Congolese.

Nadia Murad, a member of the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq, is herself a victim of war crimes. She us one of an estimated 3,000 Yazidi girls and women who were victims of rape and other abuses by the IS army. The abuses were systematic, and part of a military strategy. Thus they served as a weapon in the fight against Yazidis and other religious minorities.

According to the official statement, “This year’s Nobel Peace Prize is firmly embedded in the criteria spelled out in Alfred Nobel’s will. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad have both put their personal security at risk by courageously combating war crimes and seeking justice for the victims. They have thereby promoted the fraternity of nations through the application of principles of international law.”

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