TWO campaigners against sexual violence in war zones, Nadia Murad and Dr Denis Mukwege, have been awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.
Dr Mukwege is a gynaecologist in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Along with colleagues, he has treated tens of thousands of victims of sexual assault in the country. Ms Murad is Iraqi Yazidi who was tortured and raped by Islamic State militants before she came to the forefront of the campaign to free the Yazidi people.
Announcing the winners on Friday, the Nobel committee said that the two had been given the prize “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict”. Both had “put their own personal security at risk by courageously combating war crimes and securing justice for victims”.
Ms Murad was held by Islamic State for three months before escaping in 2014; she is the first Iraqi to win the award.
Dr Mukwege has been outspoken in his criticism of the DRC government for failing to protect women, and survived an assassination attempt in 2012.
PADr Denis Mukwege in 2016
He lives under permanent protection from UN peacekeepers. He is believed to have treated 30,000 women, developing new surgical techniques to help people recover from sexual violence.
The official announcement said: “Both laureates have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, war crimes. 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 war-time sexual violence, so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions.”
In a speech to the Lutheran World Federation last year, Dr Mukwege said: “The mission of the Church on earth is a prophetic mission to expose and also condemn evil. We have the duty to work at all levels in our society to foster legislation and procedures that rehabilitate women and enable them to flourish.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury met the UNHCR’s special envoy, Angelina Jolie, to discuss sexual violence in war last year (News, 24 March 2017).
The former Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Dr Alastair Redfern, said in 2016 that faith groups should be brought together to combat the use of sexual violence in conflicts, and challenge the values and cultural norms that allow such violence to happen (News, 14 October 2016).
Nominations for 216 individuals and 115 organisations were received for the 2018 award, of more than $1 million.