Congolese gynecologist and surgeon Denis Mukwege won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize earlier this month for more than two decades of work in healing victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mukwege was declared the winner of the coveted prize on October 5, 2018 at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo along with Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman who was held as a sex slave by the ISIS and has since been a Yazidi rights activist. Murad is the 17th woman and the second youngest recipient of the award after Malala Yousafzai.
Contra Nocendi International congratulates Mukwege and Murad for their extraordinary contribution to human rights and their work in emancipating victims of human rights abuse and sexual violence, a cause for which they have put their own lives at risk on several occasions.
Mukwege has previously won the United Nations Human Rights Prize as well as the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize as well. He currently heads Panzi Hospital in Bukhavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which he founded over 20 years ago. At this hospital, he treats thousands of women every year who have suffered from grave sexual assault.
We also commend Murad’s work, and her activism, which touches a countless number of people affected by the Islamic State. Murad escaped from the ISIS, which repeatedly sold her as part of sex slavery after abducting her from her home in northern Iraq.
The peace prize for this year comes at a time when the global #metoo movement is gaining traction in several nations and there is increasing focus on the mistreatment and abuse of women. The movement is becoming popular as more and more women are coming up and speaking about their incidents of harassment, abuse and suffering at the hands of men. Not only has the movement encouraged women to come out and talk about their experiences, but it is also led to several cases of abuse to come out in the open and the perpetrators being held accountable in a lot of cases.
“#Metoo and war crimes are not quite the same. But they have in common that they see the suffering of women, the abuse of women and that it is important that women leave the concept of shame behind and speak up,” news outlet Reuters quoted Nobel Committee Chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen as saying.
At Contra Nocendi, our mission is to continue advocating for human rights and to uphold humanitarian and human rights laws that protect the rights of all groups including women, especially amidst violent situations in conflict zones. We applaud the work of Mukwege and his stupendous contributions toward upholding human rights in the African continent.
The laureate’s continuing contribution to combating an important and gruesome aspect of war crimes is an inspiration to people working in the arena of human rights globally.