The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize is a well-deserved, beyond admirable one, as it has been awarded to gynaecologist Dr Denis Mukwege and UN Goodwill ambassador Nadia Murad in Oslo, Norway, today 5 October. The recipient of this esteemed prize is chosen by a committee of five people elected by the Norwegian Parliament. This year, the committee recognised Dr Mukwege and Nadia’s concerted efforts to put an end to sexual violence as a weapon of war. Both Dr Mukwege and Nadia have made valuable contributions to creating visibility for wartime sexual violence.
Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, explained that ‘Denis Mukwege is the helper who has devoted his life to defending these victims. Nadia Murad is the witness who tells of the abuse perpetrated against herself and others.
‘Each of them in their own way has helped to give greater visibility to wartime sexual violence, so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions,’ she added.
Dr Denis Mukwege, who was also a Nobel Peace Prize nominee in 2016, has dedicated his life to creating a safe haven for women and girls who have been affected by rape and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), while also providing treatment for them. The documentary titled City of Joy (named after the safe haven) details his work, as it follows the unlikely friendship that develops between him, The Vagina Monologues playwright Eve Ensler, and a charismatic Congolese human rights activist who joined forces to create a safe haven for women survivors in the middle of violence-torn Eastern Congo.
Nadia Murad is now the 17th woman to win a Nobel Prize and the second youngest recipient after Malala Yousafzai who received it in 2014. Malala and Nadia’s triumphs and acts of goodwill are both borne out of trauma. Nadia was held as a sex slave by Isis in 2014 in Iraq and after escaping, became an activist for Yazidi people, campaigning to help put an end to human trafficking and calling on the world to take a tougher line on rape as a weapon of war.
In a presumably awe-inspiring pool of 331 candidates for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, Dr Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad have therefore proven most worthy and timely as the world is facing a colossal rape and sexual violence crisis.