2018

Denis Mukwege

Nadia Murad

for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict
Denis Mukwege

Denis Mukwege (1955 -)

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Helping to combat sexual violence

Denis Mukwege grew up in the town of Bukavu in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He trained as a doctor and became a gynecologist after studying in France. In 2008, he established Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where he and his staff have treated the injuries of thousands of women victims of sexual violence. Many millions of people have been killed, abused and forced to flee in the civil wars that have ravaged the DRC since the 1990s. The fighting largely concerns control of the DRC’S important raw materials. Both government forces and rebel groups have used the rape of women as a weapon to humiliate and weaken their opponents. Mukwege has become one of the world’s leading experts on the treatment of internal injuries suffered by women subjected to gang rape. He has carried out countless operations, working long days of up to 18 hours. Typically, he was in the operating room when he was told that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Mukwege’s work is dangerous. In 2012, he and his family survived an assassination attempt, and his life has been threatened by groups bent on preventing him from publicly condemning the atrocities. Despite these threats, Mukwege has continued to criticise the DRC’s government and the international community for not doing enough to prosecute the perpetrators of such war crimes.
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Nadia Murad

Nadia Murad (1993 -)

Iraq

Victim of sexual violence

Nadia Murad grew up in the village of Kojo in northern Iraq. She is a member of the Yazidi minority. The Yazidi religion is a mixture of Islam, Christianity and ancient Iranian religions. In 2014, militants from the Islamic State (IS) conquered Kojo and massacred several hundred men and elderly women. The IS claimed that the Yazidi were devil worshippers who had to be exterminated. Twenty-one-year-old Nadia Murad and other young women were abducted and held as sex slaves. Nadia was raped and threatened with execution unless she converted to the IS version of Islam. After some months, Nadia Murad managed to escape, and in 2015 arrived in Germany. There she chose to tell the international community what she had suffered. Murad hoped that doing so would result in her abusers being brought to justice for their crimes. In 2016, she was appointed the United Nations’ first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. In 2008, the United Nations determined that use of sexual violence in war and conflict is a war crime. Nadia Murad has written an autobiography, “The Last Girl”. By recounting the atrocities perpetrated against her, she seeks to help ensure that future generations of girls and young women do not become victims of sexual violence in war.
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