Nobel laureates urge world to help victims of rape in conflict

11 December, 2018 12:00 AM printer

OSLO: Nobel laureates Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad called on the world to protect victims of wartime sexual violence in their Peace Prize acceptance speeches on Monday, slamming indifference to the plight of women and children in conflict, reports AFP.

Congolese gynecologist Mukwege, whose work has made him a global expert on rape in conflict, and Yazidi activist Murad, a survivor of IS sexual slavery, both said victims were sometimes valued less than commercial interests. In an emotional ceremony, which saw the laureates cheered and given standing ovations, Mukwege and Murad called on the world to do more. “If there is a war to be waged, it is the war against the indifference which is eating away at our societies,” Mukwege said at the ceremony in Oslo.

His Panzi hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s war-torn east has treated the wounds of tens of thousands of women and children for sexual assaults that have become a “new reality” in the country. He said the violence “shames our common humanity”. 

In her speech Murad implored the global community to help free hundreds of women and girls still held by jihadists, saying the world must protect her people and other vulnerable communities.

“It is my view that all victims deserve a safe haven until justice is done for them,” she said, pausing briefly, seemingly overcome with emotion.

Nobel committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said the pair had received the Peace Prize “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict”.

She described them as “two of the strongest voices in the world today”.

In a sombre ceremony in Oslo City Hall, both smiled as they received the Peace Prize gold medal, diploma and the nine million Swedish Krona (880,000 euros, a million dollars), which they will share.

Mukwege lay much of the blame for the horrific violence unleashed on civilians on those in power in his troubled country.

“For twenty years now, day after day, at Panzi hospital, I have seen the harrowing consequences of the country’s gross mismanagement,” said the doctor, a critic of DR Congo President Joseph Kabila, who is set to be replaced in elections this month.