The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded on Friday to Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege and Yazidi activist Nadia Murad for their work to end sexual violence against women as a weapon of war. Norwegian Nobel Committee Chair Berit Reiss-Andersen announced the winners, who were chosen from among 216 nominated individuals and 115 organisations.
Murad, a member of Iraq’s minority Yazidi community, was herself a victim of sexual violence after Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants stormed through her hometown and took her captive. She has fought since then to bring attention to such violence and help victims of it. At 25, she is the second youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace prize, after Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai.
Murad was one of an estimated 3,000 Yazidi women and girls subjected to horrific abuse, including rape, by the ISIS militants. She escaped after three months in captivity and has spoken out ever since, visiting the United States and many other nations to shed light on the plight of women in conflict zones. She is also the U.N.’s first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.
Mukwege has been a critic of the Congolese government and has treated victims of sexual violence in that country. In 2008, with war still tearing the Congo apart, Mukwege spoke to CBS’ 60 Minutes about his role as director of the Panzi Hospital in the country’s east. As Anderson Cooper reported, it was a war against women, and Mukwege’s hospital was on the front line.
During a decade of conflict in Congo, hundreds of thousands of women were raped, most of them gang raped, and hundreds of them sought treatment for their injuries — both physical and psychological – at Panzi Hospital.