This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Dr. Denis Mukwege, who has spent many years treating and advocating for rape victims in the war-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman who faced horrible sexual violence after being abducted by ISIS.
The New York Times reported:
“We want to send out a message of awareness that women, who constitute half of the population in most communities, actually are used as a weapon of war, and that they need protection and that the perpetrators have to be prosecuted and held responsible for their actions,” Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chairwoman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said.
In a year when women have turned the world’s attention to an epidemic of sexual abuse in the home and in the workplace, the award cast a spotlight on two global regions where women have paid a devastating price for years of armed conflict.
“In a bare hospital in the hills above Bukavu, where for years there was little electricity or enough anesthetic, he performed surgery on countless women,” the Times described Mukwege’s work dealing with truly horrifying injuries in a place that’s been called “the rape capital of the world. In 2012, he was nearly assassinated after speaking at the U.N.
“To treat women for the first time, second time, and now I’m treating the children born after rape,” he said, “This is not acceptable.”
Murad was abducted from her village in Iraq in 2014, one of many women and girls from the Yazidi minority targeted by ISIS; she was “sold” to a judge and raped repeatedly. After escaping, she began traveling the globe to draw attention to her experiences and her people’s plight.
“I will go back to my life when women in captivity go back to their lives, when my community has a place, when I see people accountable for their crimes,” she said. She is now the second-youngest person to ever win a Nobel, after Malala Yousafzai.