Two influential figures in the fight against sexual violence as a weapon of war were chosen as 2018’s recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
Dr. Denis Mukwege was recognized for treating victims of rape, while Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman who has spoken out about being held as a sex slave by ISIS, was awarded the prize for her work as a human rights campaigner following her experience.
“It’s not a women question; it’s a humanity question, and men have to take responsibility to end it.” —Dr. Denis Mukwege
“Both laureates have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. “Denis Mukwege is the helper who has devoted his life to defending these victims. Nadia Murad is the witness who tells of the abuses perpetrated against herself and others. Each of them in their own way has helped to give greater visibility to wartime sexual violence, so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions.”
Mukwege opened a clinic two decades ago in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with the goal of treating women who had been subjected to sexual violence during armed conflicts. Since then, he has treated thousands of women who have been raped during war, and has spoken publicly about such abuses as an international affliction.
“It’s not a women question; it’s a humanity question, and men have to take responsibility to end it,” Dr. Mukwege said in one interview. “It’s not an Africa problem. In Bosnia, Syria, Liberia, Colombia, you have the same thing.”