Yazidi activist Nadia Murad won the 2018 award alongside gynecologist Denis Mukwege.
The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize went to Iraqi Yazidi rape survivor-turned-activist Nadia Murad and Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege on Friday “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.”
“Denis Mukwege is the helper who has devoted his life to defending these victims,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in its announcement. “Nadia Murad is the witness who tells of the abuses perpetrated against herself and others.”
Murad, 25, became an advocate for survivors of sexual violence after her 2014 escape from being kidnapped and used as a sex slave by ISIS militants. She is the second-youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize after Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who won in 2014 at age 17, and the 17th woman to win.
In 2016, Murad was appointed the UN’s first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking; she also teamed up with human-rights attorney Amal Clooney to seek justice for Yazidi victims of the Islamic State.
“This is not something I chose,” Murad told the Washington Post in an interview last year. “Somebody had to tell these stories. It’s not easy.” Following her win, she told Reuters in a statement that she shared the award “with all Yazidis, with all the Iraqis, Kurds and all the minorities and all survivors of sexual violence around the world.”
2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege is the helper who has devoted his life to defending victims of war-time sexual violence. Fellow laureate Nadia Murad is the witness who tells of the abuses perpetrated against herself and others. #NobelPrize pic.twitter.com/MY6IdYWN1e
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 5, 2018
And Mukwege, 63, has treated more than 50,000 sexual violence survivors with his staff since founding Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 1999. The hospital employs a “holistic healing model” made up of five pillars: medical care, psychosocial support, community reintegration, legal assistance, and education and advocacy. Mukwege has faced grave threats to his safety.
The doctor, who said in a statement to Reuters that he’d learned of the news while performing a surgery, dedicated his award to women around the world who face conflict and violence.
“For almost 20 years I have witnessed war crimes committed against women, girls, and even baby girls not only in my country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also in many other countries,” Mukwege said. “To the survivors from all over the world, I would like to tell you that through this prize, the world is listening to you and refusing to remain indifferent. The world refuses to sit idly in the face of your suffering.”
The two new laureates “have both put their personal security at risk by courageously combating war crimes and seeking justice for victims,” Norwegian Nobel Committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen said during the announcement.
“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,” Reiss-Andersen added. “We believe that this is a fundamental prerequisite for lasting peace, to also include the rights and the awareness of women.”
© 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved