Nobel Peace Prize 2018 goes to Yazidi activist and Congolese gynaecologist

Nadia Murad, a Yazidi human rights activist and survivor of sexual slavery by Islamic State in Iraq, and Denis Mukwege, a gynaecologist treating victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, have jointly won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it had awarded them the prize for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

“Both laureates have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes,” it said in its citation.

Ms Murad is an advocate for the Yazidi minority in Iraq and for refugee and women’s rights in general. Aged 19, she was enslaved and raped by Islamic State fighters in Mosul in 2014.

She fled Iraq and spoke openly about the abuse she suffered – repeatedly gang-raped, tortured and beaten during the three months she was held.

Six of her brothers and mother were killed by the jihadists. She has since fought for the 3,000 Yazidis who remain unaccounted for.

Isil fighters wanted “to take our honour, but they lost their honour,” said Ms Murad.

With the help of an organisation that assists Yazidis, she joined her sister in Germany, where she lives today.

She has since dedicated herself to what she calls “our peoples’ fight”, before a well-known spokeswoman even before the #MeToo movement swept the world.

Many have viewed the two recipient choices as a nod to the movement.

She was named a United Nations goodwill ambassador for survivors of human trafficking. and has worked alongside human rights lawyer Amal Clooney to testify to Isil’s crimes of genocide against the Yazidi people.

She is the second-youngest receipient of the peace prize after Malala Yousafzai, a Pakastani woman who was shot by the Taliban on her way to school.

Mr Mukwege, a gynecologist treating victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, leads the Panzi Hospital in the eastern city of Bukavu.

Denis Mukwege is a crusading gynaecologist who has spent more than two decades treating appalling injuries inflicted on women in DRC, whose work was the subject of an acclaimed 2015 film titled: “The Man Who Mends Women.”

A father to five children, the tireless 63-year-old is an outspoken critic of the abuse of women in war who has repeatedly accused the world of failing to act.

He had been repeatedly nominated for his work with gang rape victims from the conflicts that have ravaged his homeland.

Mr Mukwege has called on the world to take a tougher line on rape as a weapon of war.

“We have been able to draw a red line against chemical weapons, biological weapons and nuclear arms,” he told AFP in 2016.

“Today we must also draw a red line against rape as a weapon of war,” he said, describing it as a “cheap and efficient” form of terror which condemns its victims to “a life sentence”.

Recalling the moment he saw such a patient for the first time in 1999 – the year he set up Panzi hospital – Mukwege recounted how the rapists had inserted a gun into a woman’s genitals and fired.

“Her whole pelvis was destroyed. I thought it was the work of a madman, but the same year I treated 45 similar cases,” he said.

“For 15 years I have witnessed mass atrocities committed against women’s bodies and I cannot remain with my arms folded because our common humanity calls on us to care for each other.”

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.

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