Anti-rape activists Denis Mukwege, 63, and Nadia Murad, 25, were jointly awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for “their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict,” CNN reports.
As a gynecologist, Dr. Mukwege’s work has centered on treating thousands of women raped and sexually assaulted by rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“I can see in the faces of many women how they are happy to be recognized,” Mukwege said Friday when reached by the Nobel committee with news of his prestigious award. He was in the middle of saving a life, performing his second operation of the day. And he has to constantly be protected by United Nations peacekeepers at the hospital he established in Bukavu in 2008.
The Nobel committee said the winners made a “crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes.”
Murad, a 23-year-old Yazidi, survived genocide and sexual slavery committed by ISIS. She bore witness to the slaying of her family and narrowly escaped death. Murad, who was one of 3,000 Yazidi girls and women who were victims of gang rape, has been on a crusade to spread the word about the sexual abuses she was subjected to.
Last year Murad told CNN:
“”Nearly 6,500 women and children from the Yazidi were abducted and about 5,000 people from the community were killed during that day,” she said. “For eight months, they separated us from our mothers and our sisters and our brothers, and some of them were killed and others disappeared.”
The human rights activist now resides in Germany after entering as a refugee.
“For myself, I think of my mother, who was murdered by DAESH (the Arabic term for Islamic State), the children with whom I grew up, and what we must do to honor them,” she said in a statement.
“Persecution of minorities must end. We must work together with determination – to prove that genocidal campaigns will not only fail, but lead to accountability for the perpetrators and justice for the survivors.”