This year’s Nobel Peace Prize recipients are two advocates for women who have bravely been fighting to end the use of sexual violence during wars and conflicts: Dr. Denis Mukwege and activist Nadia Murad. They have helped thousands of women, even though they risk their own safety doing so, and continue to spread their message to end this plague of sexual assaults.
Dr. Denis Mukwege is a Gynecologist at the Panzi Hospital, located in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo city, Bukavu. For over twenty years, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been a country full of violence with two back to back wars, and continuing hostility post wars which has brought an epidemic of sexual violence. Dr.Mukwege and his staff have helped over 40,000 survivors of sexual assault providing them with services ranging from psychological to legal assistance; and, he is world’s leading expert on repairing internal damage caused by rape. Outside of the hospital, he has advocated to the United Nations the need for sexual violence to stop being used as a weapon of war and how perpetrators should be brought to justice.
Nadia Murad, a victim of sexual assault herself, is the United Nations first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking and founder of the Nadia’s Initiative organization. Murad was 19 years old when ISIS militants raided the Yazidi community in Northern Iraq in September of 2014, killing over 600 people, and taking over 6,700 women into slavery which they sold approximately 3,000 into human trafficking, with Murad being one of them. Only a year after her captivity, Murad met with the United Nations Security Council and discussed with them the issue of human trafficking and conflict occurring, where the UN later established her as an ambassador. In 2016, she founded Nadia’s Initiative, which provides assistance to victims of trafficking, sexual assault, and genocide.