Creating new perspectives since 2009

Iraq activist wins Nobel Peace Prize for work against sexual violence

October 5, 2018 at 2:11 pm

Human rights activist and 2018 Nobel Prize, Nadia Murad Bansee Taha in Germany on 31 May 2016 [Apaimages]

Yazidi activist Nadia Murad has won the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Congolese gynaecologist Dr Denis Mukwege, for their work in highlighting the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad “have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in its announcement. “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.”

The first Iraqi to win the award, Murad was held captive as a sex slave for three months by Daesh militants and subjected to physical and sexual abuse. After escaping Mosul in November 2014, she became the face of a campaign highlighting the plight of the Yazidi people and the use of rape as a weapon of war.

She was awarded the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize by the Council of Europe in 2016 and called for an international court to judge crimes committed by Daesh in her acceptance speech in Strasbourg. Later that year, at the age of 23, she was named the UN’s first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.

Murad has previously visited Israel’s Knesset at a time when it a proposed bill was being discussed to recognise the atrocities done to the Yazidis as a genocide and commemorate the victims every 3 August.

The Jews and the Yazidis share a common history of genocide that has shaped the identity of our peoples, but we must transform our pain into action. I respect how you rebuilt a global Jewish community in the wake of genocide. This is a journey that lies ahead of my community

Murad said.

Dr Mukwege has also campaigned relentlessly to shine a spotlight on the plight of Congolese women who have been gang raped by militia groups in the country’s ongoing conflict, despite nearly being assassinated a few years ago. He and his colleagues have treated over 30,000 women who have been victims of sexual violence.

READ: Yazidi girl accidentally meets her Daesh kidnapper in Germany

“It’s not a women question; it’s a humanity question, and men have to take responsibility to end it,” Dr. Mukwege once said in an interview. “It’s not an Africa problem. In Bosnia, Syria, Liberia, Colombia, you have the same thing.”

He currently lives under the permanent protection of UN peacekeepers at his hospital and has also previously called for a tougher line on rape as a weapon of war.

The committee has been praised for recognising the importance of global attention on sexual violence, in a year when the #MeToo campaign has shed a light on the widespread experiences of assault shared by women across the world.

READ: Deputy Daesh leader receives death sentence

The 2018 prize is worth 9 million Swedish kronor ($1.01 million). Some 331 individuals and organisations were nominated for the prestigious peace award this year, including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which was put forward by Norwegian politician Bjørnar Moxnes.

Last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner was the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a coalition of NGOs whose work has highlighted the humanitarian risk of such weapons.