Congolese doctor, Denis Mukwege and Yazidi campaigner, Nadia Murad, won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, for their work in fighting sexual violence in conflicts around the world.
Nobel committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said: “The pair won the award, for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict”.
One of them is a doctor and the other is a former Islamic State sex slave, both have come to represent the struggle against a global scourge which goes well beyond any single conflict, as the #MeToo movement has shown.
The prize was announced as #MeToo marks its first anniversary after a year in which allegations of sexual abuse, rape and harassment have toppled dozens of powerful men.
By recognising the pair’s work, the Nobel committee has placed a spotlight on the use of sexual violence in war as a global problem.
Mukwege was recognised for two decades of work to help women recover from the violence and trauma of sexual abuse and rape in the war-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Women, children and even babies just a few months old, Mukwege has treated tens of thousands of victims of rape at Panzi hospital which he founded in 1999 in South Kivu.
Known as “Doctor Miracle”, he is an outspoken critic of the abuse of women during war, who has described rape as “a weapon of mass destruction”.
Alongside Mukwege, the committee honoured Murad, a 25-year-old Iraqi woman from the Yazidi community who in 2014 was kidnapped by Islamic State militants and endured three months, as a sex slave before managing to escape.
She was one of thousands of Yazidi women and girls who were abducted, raped and brutalised by jihadists during their assault that year on the Kurdish-speaking minority, which the United Nations has described as genocide.
After her escape, she quickly became a figurehead for efforts to protect the Yazidi community and was later named a UN ambassador for victims of human trafficking.
The Nobel committee said, “Murad had shown ‘uncommon courage’ in recounting her own sufferings and speaking up on behalf of other victims”.
“She refused to accept the social codes that require women to remain silent and ashamed of the abuses to which they have been subjected”.
“Both Mukwege and Murad had put their personal security at risk, by 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.