This year’s Noble Peace Prize winners go in total harmony with the day’s echoing voices against sexual violence. In the time when the world has become more vocal to the cause of women’s injustice, the accolades to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad powers the movement further.
A paediatrician turned gynaecologist, Mukwege is known for his efforts to treat women affected by sexual violence. He was born(in 1955) in Bukavu, a region in the war-ridden far east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is here where he practices since his early days, barring a break of two months(just after the gunmen attacked him and his family). Working relentlessly in Panzi hospital, Mukwege has performed thousands of surgeries till now. An 18 hour day on which he operates around ten cases is a usual occurring.
The path Mukwege has chosen is anything but safe. In a country whose government criticizes him, Mukwege’s life is under a constant threat. In October 2012, a month after his strong speech at the United Nations, four armed gunmen entered his residence.
On that day he was away, the gunmen held his daughters hostage while waiting for his return. When Denis came, his guard meddled and got shot dead. This was the incident which made Mukwege fly to Europe with his family. Three months later he returned to his homeland where a gathering welcomed him at the Kavumu Airport. His patients had raised funds to pay for his return ticket by selling pineapples and oranges.
While Mukwege has dedicated his life to sewing wounds of the abused women, Nadia is someone who has faced the terror herself.
It was in August 2014, when the ISIS committed a genocide of the Yazidi community in Iraq’s Sinjar district. As per the UN, around 5000 people lost their lives, with another 10800(2017 Plos Medical Survey) being abducted.
Nadia was one among around a thousand from Kocho(Yazidi village in Sinjar) who faced a similar fate. Before finding an escape opening, she was repeatedly raped and sold for the three months she was under abduction.
A year later she boarded to speak to a UN forum on minority issues and for the first time presented her painful journey to the world. She has since taken no step backwards. In 2016, she announced Nadia’s Initiative dedicated to “helping women and children victimized by genocide, mass atrocities and human trafficking to heal and rebuild the lives and communities”. In 2016 she was bestowed with the honour of “Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought”. She also became the “First Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors in of Human Trafficking of the United Nations”, the same year.
After being declared as the co-receipt of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, Murad said, “I’m committed to being the voice of those who have no voice”. She continued, “It is an honour to share it with the Yazidis, Iraqis, Kurds and other persecuted minorities and all victims in every corner of the world, particularly those who have suffered sexual violence”. Nadia at the age of 25, became the first person from Iraq to win the prestigious laureate.
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize went to the two activists for “their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict”.
While Mukwege’s recognition should serve as a wake-up call for the rising sexism and a norm to follow for the men of the present era, Nadia’s story is a sad reminder of how women are the worst victims of war.