Nobel Peace Prize Winners Seek Justice for War Rape Victims

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The Nobel Peace Prize 2018
Nobel peace prize laureates Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege attend a news conference at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway December 9, 2018. NTB Scanpix/Heiko Junge via REUTERS
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By Gwladys Fouche
OSLO (Reuters) 

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners on Sunday called for justice for the victims of sexual violence in conflicts around the world, a day before they will receive the award for their efforts to put an end to rape as a weapon of war

Denis Mukwege, a doctor 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, will jointly receive the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony on Monday in the Norwegian city.

Mukwege heads the Panzi Hospital in the eastern Congo city of Bukavu. The clinic receives thousands of women each year, many of them requiring surgery from sexual violence.

 

The Nobel Peace Prize 2018
Nobel peace prize laureates Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege attend a news conference at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway December 9, 2018. NTB Scanpix/Heiko Junge via REUTERS

 

Murad is an advocate for the Yazidi minority in Iraq and for refugee and women’s rights in general. She was enslaved and raped by Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Iraq, in 2014.

Murad has campaigned for a United Nations investigative team to collect and preserve evidence of acts by Islamic State in Iraq that may be war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide.

The team began its work in August, a year after it was approved by the U.N. Security Council.

 

Nobel Peace Prize 2018
Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege together with the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize committee, Anne Enger, Thorbjorn Jagland, Henrik Syse, Asle Toje and Berit Reiss-Andersen, pose for a photograph after a news conference with the 2018 Nobel Laureates at the Nobel Institute in Olso, Norway December 9, 2018. Heiko Junge/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS

 

Murad, speaking at a news conference at the Norwegian Nobel Institute on Sunday, said that not a single person in Iraq had yet faced justice for raping Yazidi women and girls.

“We have not seen a single piece of justice in this light. We need to receive justice one day,” she told reporters via an interpreter, adding that 3,000 Yazidi women and girls still remained in sexual captivity with IS fighters.

But she was also hopeful. “If it was not for our campaign over the past four years, we would not have seen the steps we have seen towards justice.”

 

The Nobel Peace Prize 2018
Leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Anderseninn, the Nobel Peace Prize laureates Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege, and secretary of the Nobel Committee Olav Njolstad attend a news conference at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway December 9, 2018. NTB Scanpix/Heiko Junge via REUTERS

 

Her fellow Nobel laureate, Mukwege, who lives in the grounds of the Panzi hospital and who frequently receives death threats, said justice needed to be included in any peace process.

The Second Congo War, which killed more than five million people, formally ended in 2003, but violence is still a problem in the country, where militias frequently target civilians.

“There is humanitarian law. We call on it to be applied in an impartial way. After the war ended, we have seen war lords reach the top of the state and there was no discussion of justice and violence has continued,” he said at the news conference.

 

Nobel Peace Prize 2018
Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad sign the Nobel guestbook at a news conference with the 2018 Nobel Laureates at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway December 9, 2018. Heiko Junge/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS

 

Winning the Nobel Peace Prize, he said, would help to bring perpetrators to justice.

“It will help the international community take its responsibilities when it comes to the victims of sexual violence,” he said.

Mukwege also said he was concerned that elections in the Congo planned for Dec. 23 could lead to a resurgence of violence if they were not free and transparent.

 

(Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations and Giulia Paravicini in Kinshasa. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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