Oslo (Agencies) - Denis Mukwege, a doctor who helps victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi rights activist and survivor of sexual slavery by Islamic State, won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
They were awarded the prize for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.
“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,” it said in its citation.
“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.”
Mukwege heads the Panzi Hospital in the eastern Congolese city of Bukavu. Opened in 1999, the clinic receives thousands of women each year, many of them requiring surgery from sexual violence.
Murad is an advocate for the Yazidi minority in Iraq and for refugee and women’s rights in general. She was enslaved and raped by Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Iraq, in 2014.
“Rape in war has been a crime for centuries. But it was a crime in the shadows. The two laureates have both shone a light on it,” said Dan Smith, Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
“Their achievements are really extraordinary in bringing international attention to the crime,” he told Reuters.
Mukwege, a past winner of the United Nations Human Rights Prize and the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, performed surgery on scores of women after they had been raped by armed men, and he campaigned to highlight their plight. He also provides HIV/AIDS treatment as well as free maternal care.
Although the Second Congo War, which killed more than five million people, formally ended in 2003, violence remains rampant, with militias frequently targeting civilians.
The hospital has also been the subject of threats, and in 2012 Mukwege’s home was invaded by armed men who held his daughters at gunpoint, shot at him and killed his bodyguard.
Shortly before that attack, he had denounced mass rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the impunity for it in a speech at the United Nations.
“He has risked his life to help women survive atrocity,” said SIPRI’s Smith.
Mukwege was in the operation room when he was told the news, Belgian broadcaster RTBF reported on Friday.
Wivine Moleka, a member of Congo’s ruling PPRD party, said Mukwege was more than just a doctor.
“He is a humanist who has taken the pain of women into consideration, pain in their flesh and in their soul. The prize sends a strong signal to everyone about these women who are raped every day,” she said.
“She’s crying right now. She’s crying, she can’t talk,” Nadia Murad’s brother told Norwegian public broadcaster NRK after the award was announced.
Murad was 21-years-old in 2014 when Islamic State militants attacked the village where she had grown up in northern Iraq. The militants killed those who refused to convert to Islam, including six of her brothers and her mother.
Along with many of the other young women in her village, she was taken into captivity by the militants, and sold repeatedly for sex as part of Islamic State’s slave trade.
She eventually escaped captivity with the help of a Sunni Muslim family in Mosul, the de facto IS capital in Iraq, and became an advocate for the rights of her community around the world.
In 2017, Murad published a memoir of her ordeal, “The Last Girl”. She recounted in harrowing detail her months in captivity, her escape and her journey to activism.
“At some point, there was rape and nothing else. This becomes your normal day,” wrote
The militants’ attack on Yazidi communities in northern Iraq was part of what the United Nations has called a genocidal campaign launched by the Sunni militants against the religious minority.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi congratulated her on the award, and Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi member of Iraq’s parliament, said: “It is the victory of good and peace over the forces of darkness.”
Murad, who is also a Sakharov Prize winner, is the second youngest Nobel Prize laureate after Malala Yusafzai.
The award of the prize follows a year in which the abuse and mistreatment of women in all walks of life across the globe has been a focus of attention.
Asked whether the #metoo movement, a prominent women’s rights activist forum, was an inspiration for this year’s prize, Nobel Committee Chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said: “Metoo and war crimes are not quite the same. But they have in common that they see the suffering of women, the abuse of women and that it is important that women leave the concept of shame behind and speak up.”
Norwegian Nobel Committee secretary Olav Njoelstad said this year’s prize linked the effort to help war victims with those to rid the world of “evil, inhumane” arms by such organizations as anti-nuclear arms campaigner ICAN, last year’s laureate.
“This is one of the goals, hopes that this prize, and the efforts of those two people, as well as thousands of others will eventually lead to the abolishment of this practice of sexual violence against girls, women and sometimes men as a weapon in a military conflict, which is really, really inhumane,” he told Reuters.
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.
Full list of Nobel Peace Prize winners
Here is the full list of Nobel Peace Prize laureates from 1901, when the prize was first awarded.
2018: Denis Mukwege (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Nadia Murad (Iraq)
2017: International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
2016: Juan Manuel Santos (Colombia)
2015: The National Dialogue Quartet (Tunisia)
2014: Kailash Satyarthi (India) and Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan)
2013: The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
2012: The European Union (EU)
2011: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee (Liberia), Tawakkul Karman (Yemen)
2010: Liu Xiaobo (China)
2009: Barack Obama (US)
2008: Martti Ahtisaari (Finland)
2007: Al Gore (US) and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
2006: Muhammad Yunus (Bangladesh) and the Grameen Bank
2005: International Atomic Energy Agency and Mohamed ElBaradei (Egypt)
2004: Wangari Maathai (Kenya)
2003: Shirin Ebadi (Iran)
2002: Jimmy Carter (US)
2001: Kofi Annan (Ghana) and the United Nations
2000: Kim Dae-jung (South Korea)
1999: Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders)
1998: John Hume and David Trimble (Northern Ireland)
1997: Jody Williams (US) and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
1996: Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta (East Timor)
1995: Joseph Rotblat (Britain) and the Pugwash movement
1994: Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres (Israel) and Yasser Arafat (PLO)
1993: Nelson Mandela and Frederik de Klerk (South Africa)
1992: Rigoberta Menchu (Guatemala)
1991: Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma)
1990: Mikhail Gorbachev (Soviet Union)
1989: Dalai Lama (Tibet)
1988: United Nations Peacekeeping Forces
1987: Oscar Arias Sanchez (Costa Rica)
1986: Elie Wiesel (US)
1985: International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
1984: Desmond Tutu (South Africa)
1983: Lech Walesa (Poland)
1982: Alva Myrdal (Sweden) and Alfonso Garcia Robles (Mexico)
1981: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
1980: Adolfo Perez Esquivel (Argentina)
1979: Mother Teresa (Albania)
1978: Anwar Sadat (Egypt) and Menachem Begin (Israel)
1977: Amnesty International
1976: Betty Williams (Britain) and Mairead Corrigan (Northern Ireland)
1975: Andrei Sakharov (Soviet Union)
1974: Sean MacBride (Ireland) and Eisaku Sato (Japan)
1973: Henry Kissinger (US) and Le Duc Tho (Vietnam, declined)
1972: prize not handed out
1971: Willy Brandt (Germany)
1970: Norman Borlaug (US)
1969: International Labour Organisation
1968: Rene Cassin (France)
1967: prize not handed out
1966: prize not handed out
1965: United Nations Children´s Fund (UNICEF)
1964: Martin Luther King Jr (US)
1963: International Committee of the Red Cross and the League of Red Cross Societies
1962: Linus Carl Pauling (US)
1961: Dag Hammarskjoeld (Sweden)
1960: Albert Lutuli (South Africa)
1959: Philip Noel-Baker (Britain)
1958: Georges Pire (Belgium)
1957: Lester Pearson (Canada)
1956: prize not handed out
1955: prize not handed out
1954: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
1953: George Marshall (US)
1952: Albert Schweitzer (France)
1951: Leon Jouhaux (France)
1950: Ralph Bunche (US)
1949: Lord (John) Boyd Orr of Brechin (Britain)
1948: prize not handed out
1947: Friends Service Council (The Quakers), American Friends Service Committee (The Quakers)
1946: Emily Greene Balch (US), John Raleigh Mott (US)
1945: Cordell Hull (US)
1944: International Committee of the Red Cross
1943: prize not handed out
1942: prize not handed out
1941: prize not handed out
1940: prize not handed out
1939: prize not handed out
1938: Nansen International Office for Refugees
1937: Viscount Cecil of Chelwood (Britain)
1936: Carlos Saavedra Lamas (Argentina)
1935: Carl von Ossietzky (Germany)
1934: Arthur Henderson (Britain)
1933: Sir Norman Angell (Ralph Lane) (Britain)
1932: prize not handed out
1931: Jane Addams (US) and Nicholas Murray Butler (US)
1930: Nathan Soederblom (Sweden)
1929: Frank Billings Kellogg (US)
1928: prize not handed out
1927: Ferdinand Buisson (France) and Ludwig Quidde (Germany)
1926: Aristide Briand (France) and Gustav Stresemann (Germany)
1925: Sir Austen Chamberlain (Britain) and Charles Gates Dawes (US)
1924: prize not handed out
1923: prize not handed out
1922: Fridtjof Nansen (Norway)
1921: Karl Hjalmar Branting (Sweden) and Christian Lous Lange (Norway)
1920: Leon Victor Auguste Bourgeois (France)
1919: Thomas Woodrow Wilson (US)
1918: prize not handed out
1917: International Committee of the Red Cross
1916: prize not handed out
1915: prize not handed out
1914: prize not handed out
1913: Henri La Fontaine (Belgium)
1912: Elihu Root (US)
1911: Tobias Michael Carel Asser (The Netherlands) and Alfred Hermann Fried (Austria)
1910: Permanent International Peace Bureau
1909: Auguste Marie Francois Beernaert (Belgium) and Paul Henri Benjamin Balluet, Baron d´Estournelles de Constant de Rebecque (France)
1908: Klas Pontus Arnoldson (Sweden) and Fredrik Bajer (Denmark)
1907: Ernesto Teodoro Moneta (Italy) and Louis Renault (France)
1906: Theodore Roosevelt (US)
1905: Baroness Bertha Sophie Felicita von Suttner (Austria)
1904: Institute of International Law
1903: William Randal Cremer (Britain)
1902: Elie Ducommun (Switzerland) and Charles Albert Gobat (Switzerland)
1901: Jean Henri Dunant (Switzerland) and Frederic Passy (France)