It comes as a timely step forward in the global awakening over the tangible threat of sexual violence, that the most reputable prize in the world, The Nobel Peace Prize, has nominated two individuals for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.
The recipients in question are two campaigners against rape in warfare; Nadia Murad, a native Iraqi Yazidi, who endured rape and torture from Islamic State, to later become the face of a campaign to fee the Yazidi people and end human trafficking in 2014.
Dr Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynaecologist, who has treated tens of thousands of victims. He is known as Dr Congo’s ‘Dr Miracle’. The valiant service they do to protecting others from sexual violence undeniable. It is not the first time that Nadia Murad has been recognised for her bravery. In 2016 she was awarded the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize by the Council of Europe. She had been inaugurated as a goodwill ambassador just a month earlier.
The winners were announced last Friday, in the Norwegian capital Oslo. They won the award in light of their “efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war”, according to Berit Reiss-Andersen, the Nobel committee chair. They each made a “crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes,” Ms Reiss-Andersen also added.
Flashback to 2014 and Murad had told BBC Persian’s Nafiseh Kohnavard, “No let the world see what happened to us”, when assured that she can be interviewed anonymously. Now she is a Nobel Peace Prize Winner, and the first Iraqi to win the award. Dr Mukwege had previously won a number of international prizes, including the 2008 UN Human Rights Prize. He was also was named African of the Year in 2009.
His first rape victim was brought in to his hospital in 1999. He then committed himself to treat as many victims of sexual violence as he could, commenting that the numbers of victims rose drastically after the Congolese war resumed in 2012.
“I was inspired to return by the determination of Congolese women to fight these atrocities”. He told Outlook, BBC world service
Upon returning home from a trip abroad he was attacked by five men, four had an AK-47 gun and one held a pistol. They shot and killed his guard as he tried to rescue him. After the attack, Dr Mukwege fled with his family to Sweden, then to Brussels, but he was persuaded to return to Congo last month. He currently lives under the permanent protection of UN peacekeepers at his hospital.
The announcement has been received positively and has been deemed a step in the right direction across social media. The award ceremony will take place on 10th December.
Words by Melissa Fleur Afshar