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Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad win 2018 Nobel Peace Prize

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their efforts and actions towards the end of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.

Mukwege, a gynecologist and surgeon have long worked to treat thousands of women and girls affected by rape and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while Murad is a Yazidi woman from the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar who was held as a sex slave by ISIS. They’ve both been selected for this year’s prestigious award.

Both laureates have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on and combating, such 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 wartime sexual violence so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions. –  Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, as she announced the award Friday at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo.

Denis Mukwege

Mukwege is 63-year-old Congolese gynecologist who set up the Panzi hospital in Democratic Republic of Congo eastern city of Bukavu nearly 20 years ago – shortly after his first experience of treating a woman who had been raped and mutilated by armed men. Dr. Mukwege went to medical school in neighboring Burundi and later studied gynecology and obstetrics at the University of Angers in France. He has received many other international awards, including the 2008 UN Human Rights Prize. He was named African of the Year in 2009. His hospital now treats more than 3,500 women a year. Sometimes Dr. Mukwege performs as many as 10 operations a day.

I… started a hospital made from tents. I built a maternity ward with an operating theatre. In 1998, everything was destroyed again. So, I started all over again in 1999. The conflict in DR Congo is not between groups of religious fanatics. Nor is it a conflict between states. This is a conflict caused by economic interests – and it is being waged by destroying Congolese women,” he told the BBC in 2013.

Nadia Murad

Murad’s mother and six of her brothers and stepbrothers were executed. Murad, along with other unmarried women, was taken as a sex slave and passed around various ISIS militants. In 2016, at age 23, she was made a UN goodwill ambassador for the dignity of survivors of human trafficking. She becomes the 17th woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and is its second-youngest recipient after Malala Yousafzai.

Nearly 6,500 women and children from the Yazidi were abducted and about 5,000 people from the community were killed during that day. For eight months, they separated us from our mothers and our sisters and our brothers, and some of them were killed and others disappeared,” she told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria last year.

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