Nobel Peace Prize goes to pair who battled use of sexual violence in war

Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad were selected to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for 2018.

Niklas Elmehed/Nobel Assembly

The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize was jointing awarded Friday to two people who’ve fought to put a spotlight on sexual violence in war and armed conflict, so that its perpetrators can be brought to justice.

2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege

Denis Mukwege says we should “never accept that women can be destroyed in the way that is happening today.”

Dimitrios Kambouris/Techhnews for Time

Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad were selected for the prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee for their efforts to fight such war crimes.

Mukwege, a gynecologist from the Democratic Republic of Congo, lives by the principle that “justice is everyone’s business” — meaning that we all share the responsibility for reporting and combating sexual violence in war.

Working from the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Mukwege and his staff have treated thousands of victims of such assaults. He’s “likely the world’s leading expert on repairing injuries of rape,” The Globe and Mail wrote in 2008.

He was forced into exile in Europe for months after a 2012 assassination attempt following a speech in which he criticized the Congolese government and the international community for failing to confront mass rape in the country. His patients raised funds to pay for his return by selling pineapples and onions, eNews Channel Africa reported, and he continued his work.

“We have responsibility to draw the line and never accept that women can be destroyed in the way that is happening today,” he told Bill Gates, philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder, in May.

Nadia Murad fell victim to war crimes as a member of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, which Islamic State militants set out to destroy in 2014. Hundreds of people in her village were killed, while younger women were held as sex slaves. Murad herself was subjected to such abuses and threatened with execution.

2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad

Nadia Murad escaped Islamic State abuse and has battled those crimes since.

Picture Alliance/Getty

She escaped after three months and reached a refugee camp before finding a new home in Germany, Time noted in 2015.

The following year, she became the UN’s first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking and became a client of Amal Clooney, who’s helped her continue her efforts to battle those crimes on the world stage.

She recounted her story in The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and My Fight Against the Islamic State, which came out in 2017.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2018 was given to evolutionary scientists Frances Arnold, George Smith and Gregory Winter on Wednesday, the physics prize went to laser inventors Arthur Ashkin, Gerard Mourou and Donna Strickland on Tuesday, while the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo on Monday, for their breakthrough in cancer research.

This year’s Nobel Prize in Literature has been postponed.

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