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05th Oct 2018

Nobel Peace Prize awarded to activists who shone a spotlight on rape in warfare

Marc Mayo

Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege were chosen from a list of 331 candidates

The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege, who together have made an astounding impact in fighting sexual violence in times of war.

Both have witnessed the devastating manner in which rape prevails across war-torn areas of Africa and the Middle East, with the Nobel Prize Committee taken aback by the pair’s determination.

“They have both put their own personal security at risk by courageously combating war crimes and securing justice for victims,” said the Committee upon announcing the award in Oslo on Friday.

Denis Mukwege, 63, trained as a doctor in Central Africa before studying gynaecology in France and, in 1999, founded the Panzi Hospital in the Congolese city of Bukavu.

During this time, war raged across the region and the doctor treated thousands of women who had been gang-raped by militias as well as other victims of sexual violence.

Over the years, Mr. Mukwege has continued to treat victims and campaign against sexual violence in war, being named the African of the Year in 2009 and also surviving an assassination attempt in 2012.

Similarly, Ms. Murad has witnessed first hand the devastating effects of violence as one of the thousands of young women of Yazidi ethnicity captured by Islamic State militants in Iraq in 2014.

Rape and torture were daily occurrences and, after escaping to the United States, she was determined to tell her story and began speaking out against human trafficking and sexual violence in conflict.

The duo have claimed the honour from a list of 331 candidates, which included Pope Francis and the leaders of North Korea and South Korea, Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, who were considered for their efforts in de-escalating tensions between their two countries.