A Congolese doctor and Yazidi activist were thrown into the spotlight Friday when they were awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.
Denis Mukwege, a gynecologist and surgeon who helps victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi rights activist and survivor of sexual slavery by Islamic State, were recognized for the their unfailing work to try end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, according to the Nobel Committee.
For almost two decades, Mukwege has headed Panzi Hospital, a haven for Congolese women who have been raped as a result of the war
. Located in the eastern Congolese city of Bukavu, the hospital offers life-saving surgery from sexual violence.
“For almost 20 years I have witnessed war crimes committed against women, girls and even baby girls not only in my country, the Democratic Republic of Congo but also in many other countries,” he said, admitting that he had been in surgery when he heard the news of his win.
Murad was enslaved and raped by fighters of the Islamic State in 2014
. She has since used her voice as an advocate for the Yazidi minority in Iraq, and women’s rights. In 2016, at age 23, she was made a UN goodwill ambassador for the dignity of survivors of human trafficking, CNN
Murad becomes the 17th woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and is its second-youngest recipient after Malala Yousafzai.
“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,” they wrote.“Each of them in their own way has helped to give greater visibility to war-time sexual violence so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions.”