Nobel Peace Prize 2018

Nobel Peace Prize 2018

Rewarded engagement for Nadia Murad & Denis Mukwege: the Nobel Peace Prize 2018 focuses attention on sexual violence as a weapon in armed conflicts.


Dr. Denis Mukwege, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, left, in 2014 and Yazidi woman from Iraq, Nadia Murad in 2016 as they both address the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. Both won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize  for their work to highlight and eliminate the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war


October 5th, 2018, Oslo, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announces Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege as winners of the Nobel Peace Prize 2018. Why do these two symbols deserve the Prize? Both of them widely contributed to the denunciation of the use of sexual violence as a weapon in conflicts, the one in Iraq, the second in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Nobel Prize was established by Alfred Nobel, a chemist, inventor, author, and engineer, particularly known for inventing dynamite – Yes, it is a bit contradictory with the idea of honoring peace -. At the end of his life, he dedicated his wealth to create the Nobel Prize, to reward women and men in the world, who have “conferred in the greatest benefit to humankind”. Nowadays, the Nobel Prize is divided into 6 interests: Physics Prize, Chemistry Prize, Medicine Prize, Literature Prize, Prize in Economic Science and Peace Prize. 

Alfred Nobel was not only interested in science, but also in social issues. Thus, the Nobel Peace Prize aims to award influencers of the Peace Movement. The laureates are part of those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses », according to Alfred Nobel’s testament.

“… who have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses », Alfred Nobel’s 

This year, as already mentioned, Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege were selected as the most impactful peace worker, in particular for their act of plaidoyer and denunciation. Nadia Murad, 25, was a victim of sexual abuse herself in the North of Iraq. In Iraq, Da’esh uses raping females who are members of religious minorities as a military strategy, and that is what Nadia attempts to denounce, taking the voice of all the victims. Denis Mukwege, 63, physician, spent a big part of his life, saving victims of sexual assaults, in his country Democratic Republic of Congo.

This year, the Nobel Peace Prize aims so to show to the world that the women represent the half of the population and that they deserved to be protected. The Democratic Republic of Congo, rich of natural resources, such as petrol, methane gas, is divided for more than 20 years by a violent civil war. Where does this war come from? The war in RDC is one of the most complex conflicts in the world. Congo has a very complex history, it suffered from dictatorship and civil conflicts that forced migrations after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The RDC remains devastated and unstable. This instability leads to extreme violence, and women are used as a target for sexual assault. 

Since 1999, the gynecologist Denis Mukwege heals women and girls who are victims of sexual violence, in the region of Kuvu, in the eastern DRC. He even built the Panzi Foundation and the Panzi Hospital. The methodology of the holistic healing is used at the Panzi Hospital, which aims to pay attention to the whole care, not only to some parts of it: It provides transitional housing, therapeutic counseling, legal aid, community reintegration, and job training.

In addition to his work as a doctor and gynecologist, which he learned in Burundi, Congo, and France, Denis Mukwege gives his voice to all the women. He wants to make people aware of what happens in the areas of conflicts. The creation of V-Men Congo, for example, a male feminist movement he created, aims to reduce the discriminations bringing shame upon humanity and avoiding a durable peace. After winning the prize, the doctor desires to share it with all the women suffering from rape and sexual violence in the world. According to him, this Peace Prize will have real meaning and impact if it gives more visibility to the situation of women in armed conflict areas, and if it mobilizes the people all over the world.

To the survivors from all over the world, I would like to tell you that through this prize, the world is listening to you and refusing to remain indifferent. The world refuses to sit idly in the face of your suffering – Denis Mukwege

Regarding Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman born in 1993 in the north of Iraq, a Kurdish region, she was captivated as a sexual slave in Mossoul, under the violent hands of Da’esh. Da’esh aimed to exterminate the member of this monotheist religious minority. 2014, Da’esh attacked the Sinjar, the biggest city of Nadia’s region, which was controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government. Civilians, abandoned to themselves, were forced to convert to Islam if they want to survive. The way the soldiers behaved with these civilians was very unfair, humiliating, violent and extreme. Nadia’s six brothers were assassinated right under her nose. Subjected to rape and other injuries, she decided to escape while her last “master” went out to prepare for her sale.

Today in Europe, Nadia Murad, still exhausted of her situation, does not lose sight of her main goal: tell the world to stop Da’esh exterminating the Yazidi community, tell the world to help to free all victims of sexual assault. She explains in the media, what happened to her, by speaking for the millions of girls subjected to the same violence as she was. She manages to speak about how she was kidnapped, how soldiers treated her, raped her collectively or individually, beat her, how they sold or exchanged her several times, and how she finally escaped.

Still very young, she is very brave and dares to fight for the cause. She keeps fighting, keeps revealing these facts to everyone. The plaidoyer she does not only in the memory of her brothers and mother but also of all the other the victim in order to liberate them. For this reason, she was nominated as the United Nations’ first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, and recently rewarded with the Nobel Peace Prize. In many of her public speaking, she defines women abuse as a “threat to international peace and security”. She assures to not think about her own future before all the victims are liberated. She hopes that nobody else will have to tell a similar story again, she hopes that she could be the last one. That is what she shares in the book she wrote The last girl: my story of captivity and my fight against the Islamic state.

The Nobel Peace Prize rewarded one of the two bravest people in terms of denouncing and revealing war crime. They both denounced something, that is a threat to the whole humanity or a part of it. It is necessary to talk for the victims, to give them the voice. It is by exposing and reporting that we make people react about the injustices in this world, and it will hopefully enable to establish peace. Denis Mukwege said, “Justice is everyone’s business”. Justice is everyone’s business if everyone knows the injustices and if everyone knows about his/her rights. In this case, everyone can step by step, tend to a peaceful and fair society. This Nobel Peace Prize 2018 was a great step for gender equality, but it is still surprising that only 17 laureates among 133 are women.

Elise Giroud

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