Nobel Peace Prize Spotlights Sexual Violence
Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad were recently awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. Murad is a Yazidi woman who was sold into sex slavery after being captured by ISIS in northern Iraq in 1914. Her mother and 6 brothers were killed by ISIS. While “working” as a sex slave, she was raped and beaten numerous times. After she escaped, she insisted on identifying herself, being photographed and telling her story, and thus became the public face of women surviving sexual violence the world over. She has told her story in gripping and painful details, in her autobiography “The Last Girl.” She is also the U.N.'s first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.
Over several decades thousands of women have been raped and abused in the Congo, and have been treated by Dr Mukwege and his colleagues for their injuries -- both physical and psychological -- at the Panzi Hospital he founded.
While doing so he has become a major spokesperson for the plight of sexually abused women throughout the world. Speaking to reporters, Dr Mukwege said “This Nobel Prize reflects the recognition of suffering and the lack of a just reparation for women victims of rape and sexual violence in all countries of the world and on all continents.”
In a similar vein, Murad said that she shared the award with “Yazidis, Iraqis, Kurds, other persecuted minorities and all of the countless victims of sexual violence throughout the world….”
"Denis Mukwege is the helper who has devoted his life to defending these victims. Nadia Murad is the witness who tells of the abuses perpetrated against herself and others," the Nobel statement said on Friday.
For many years issues of rape, sexual abuse and violence against women have been hidden in the closet, behind curtains of secrecy and shame. All humans ---- women and men ---- have rights to safety, privacy and the autonomy of their own bodies. It is long past time that these issues be acknowledged and discussed in the open, in public political discourse, in our schools and in our own homes and families.
Many thanks and Congratulations to Mukwege and Murad ----- and to millions of other survivors ------ for their years of struggle, and their courage in bringing attention to these often ignored issues.