Denis Mukwege, a gynecologist who helps survivors of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi activist and survivor of sexual slavery by ISIS, on Friday were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
About the winners
Mukwege practices medicine in Bukavu in eastern Congo, which United Nations officials have named the "rape capital of the world." Almost 50 women are raped there every hour, according to experts.
Mukwege founded the Panzi Hospital in 1999 and has treated over 30,000 victims of sexual violence.
Mukwege also provides HIV/AIDS treatment and no-cost maternal care at his hospital.
He has received a number of threats for his work, and in 2012, gunmen invaded his home and attempted to kill him and his family.
Murad is part of the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq and was taken captive by members of ISIS who attacked her small village in 2014. She was held as a sex slave for three months before she was able to escape. In 2016, the U.N. named her the first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.
Since her escape, Murad has spoken extensively about her capture despite the shame the Yazidi culture associates with rape. "She refused to accept the social codes that require women to remain silent and ashamed of the abuses to which they have been subjected," the Norwegian Nobel Committee said. At 25 years old, Murad is the second-youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize after Malala Yousafzai who won the prize at 17 in 2014.
Neema Rukunghu, a gynecologist and medical coordinator at Panzi, said she and others at the hospital were elated by the decision to award the Nobel Prize to Mukwege and Murad. "'Finally,' everyone is saying 'finally,'" she said. "This is the moment we finally get to shine a big light on the abuses of rape in war. This isn't just recognition for Dr. Mukwege, it's a recognition of the suffering of so many women, and hope that finally we can bring this kind of suffering to an end."
Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said, "Rape in war has been a crime for centuries. But it was a crime in the shadows. The two laureates have both shone a light on it. Their achievements are really extraordinary in bringing international attention to the crime" (Adomaitis/Solsvik, Reuters, 10/5; Sullivan, NPR, 10/5; Rodrigo, The Hill, 10/5; Baker, TIME, 10/5).
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