The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded on Friday to two campaigners against wartime sexual violence: Dr. Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecological surgeon, and Nadia Murad, who became the dignified face of the women forced into sexual slavery by the Islamic State group.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said the two were given the award “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.”
Dr. Mukwege, who risked his life in a campaign to end the use of mass rape as a weapon of war, works in one of the most traumatized places in the world: the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
In a bare hospital in the hills above Bukavu, where for years there was little electricity or enough anesthetic, Dr. Mukwege has performed surgery on countless women who have trudged into his hospital a few steps away from death. At the same time, he has campaigned relentlessly to shine a spotlight on the plight of Congolese women, even after nearly being assassinated a few years ago.
“After what has happened to me, I have a new understanding,” he wrote in The New York Times in 2012. “I have seen what has been done to them. I have heard them tell me that armed attackers raped them and killed their husband, raped them and killed their children.
“I now understand this in a different way and my thoughts are with the women of my country who have suffered so much.”
Ms. Murad was abducted alongside thousands of other women and girls from the Yazidi minority when Islamic State overran her homeland in northern Iraq in 2014, and she was singled out for rape by the group, also known as ISIS.
Whereas the majority of women who escaped ISIS refused to be named, Ms. Murad insisted to reporters that she wanted to be identified and photographed. She embarked on a worldwide campaign, telling and retelling her story of suffering to the United Nations Security Council, the United States House of Representatives, Britain’s House of Commons and numerous other global bodies.
Ms. Murad has said that she was exhausted by having to repeatedly speak out, but she knew that other Yazidi women were being raped back home: “I will go back to my life when women in captivity go back to their lives, when my community has a place, when I see people accountable for their crimes.”
Her activism helped persuade the United States State Department to recognize the genocide of her people at the hands of ISIS. In 2016, she was named the United Nations’ first good-will ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. She recounted her life story in a recently published autobiography, “The Last Girl.”
In 2016, Ms. Murad was awarded the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize,named in honor of the Czech writer and dissident who served as president of his country for 14 years after the fall of Communism.
Who won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize?
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons was honored for its efforts to advance the negotiations that led to the first treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons. The choice amounted to a blunt rejoinder to the world’s nine nuclear-armed powers and their allies, which boycotted negotiationson the treaty.
Who else has won a Nobel this year?
• Frances H. Arnold, George P. Smith and Gregory P. Winter were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for tapping the power of evolutionary biology to design molecules with a range of practical uses.
• Arthur Ashkin of the United States, Gérard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for their work developing tools made of light beams.
• James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday, for work on unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells.
When will the other Nobels be announced?
• The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science will be announced on Monday in Sweden. Read about last year’s winner, Richard H. Thaler.
• The Nobel Prize in Literature has been postponed. The institution that chooses the laureate, the Swedish Academy, is embroiled in a scandal involving sexual misconduct, financial malpractice and repeated leaks — a crisis that led to the departure of several board members and required the intervention of the king of Sweden. Read about last year’s winner, Kazuo Ishiguro.