Recognition to anti-rape activism | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 09, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 09, 2018

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Recognition to anti-rape activism

The Norwegian Nobel committee said that Denis Mukwege, a doctor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, and Nadia Murad, a 25-year-old Yazidi activist, had been awarded the prize “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict”. The committee said: “Both laureates have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, 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.”

Gynaecologist Mukwege, 63, has spent decades caring for the victims of sexual assault in his homeland. He founded and maintains the Panzi hospital in Bukavu, in the east of the DRC, where he has cared for tens of thousands of women who suffered sexual assault in the country's recurrent civil conflict. Trained as an obstetrician in France, Mukwege over two decades has treated more than 50,000 women and girls. As well as physical treatment, Mukwege created an approach that focused on providing psychological and socioeconomic support to the survivors, as well as founding a legal programme to help them obtain justice.

Beginning in 2013, he and his team had to care for dozens of young girls from the town of Kavumu who were taken from their beds and raped by a militia led by a provincial member of parliament who believed raping children would protect them from their enemies.

Murad was abducted with other Yazidi women in August 2014 when their home village of Kocho in Sinjar, northern Iraq, was attacked by ISIS. Captured alongside her sisters, she lost six brothers and her mother as the extremists killed the village's men and any women considered too old to be sexually exploited. Murad has used her own story of enslavement and rape by Islamic State to publicise human rights abuses.

She eventually escaped and had shown uncommon courage in repeatedly recounting her own sufferings and speaking up on behalf of other victims, the committee said.

Murad came to Germany in 2015 as part of a special program for female victims of violence and met Merkel in 2016 to discuss her work helping others.

The government of Iraq recognised Murad's courageous campaigning on behalf of victims of sexual violence during conflict.

The Nobel committee said that both Mukwege and Murad had “put their own personal security at risk by courageously combating war crimes and securing justice for victims.” Mukwege was in surgery when he heard he had won the peace prize. He learned he had won because he heard colleagues and patients crying. “I can see in the faces of many women how they are happy to be recognised,” he said.

Murad said, “I share this award with all Yazidis, with all the Iraqis, Kurds and all the minorities and all survivors of sexual violence around the world.

As a survivor, I am grateful for this opportunity to draw international attention to the plight of the Yazidi people who have suffered unimaginable crimes since the genocide by Daesh (ISIS).”



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