Nobel Peace Prize honours the fight against sexual violence

The Nobel Peace Prize on Friday was awarded to a Congolese doctor and an Iraqi woman

The Nobel Peace Prize on Friday was awarded to a Congolese doctor and an Iraqi woman who was held captive by the Islamic State group for their work to highlight and eliminate the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad “have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in its announcement.

“Denis Mukwege is the helper who has devoted his life to defending these victims. Nadia Murad is the witness who tells of the abuses perpetrated against herself and others.”

Mukwege, 63, founded a hospital in eastern Congo’s Bukavu and has treated thousands of women, many of whom were victims of gang rape. Armed men tried to kill him in 2012, forcing him to temporarily leave the country.

RELATED: Canadian female physicist wins Nobel Prize

“The importance of Dr. Mukwege’s enduring, dedicated and selfless efforts in this field cannot be overstated. He has repeatedly condemned impunity for mass rape and criticized the Congolese government and other countries for not doing enough to stop the use of sexual violence against women as a strategy and weapon of war,” the Nobel committee said in its citation Friday.

Eastern Congo has seen more than two decades of conflict among armed groups that either sought to unseat presidents or simply grab control of a piece of the country’s vast mineral wealth.

Murad is one of an estimated 3,000 Yazidi girls and women who were victims of rape and other abuses by IS militants. She managed to escape after three months and chose to speak about her experiences. At the age of 23, she was named the U.N.’s first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.

Her book, “The Last Girl,” tells of her captivity, the loss of her family and her eventual escape.

The Yazidis are an ancient religious minority, falsely branded as devil-worshippers by Sunni Muslim extremists. IS, adopting a radical interpretation of ancient Islamic texts, declared that Yazidi women and even young girls could be taken as slaves.

“We want to send a message that women who constitute half the population in those communities actually are used as weapons and that they need protection, and that the perpetrators have to be prosecuted and held responsible,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairwoman of the Norwegian committee.

Congo’s government congratulated Mukwege while acknowledging that relations with him have been strained.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende told The Associated Press that Mukwege did “remarkable” work, though he said the laureate tended to politicize it. However, “we salute that a colleague is recognized,” he said.

RELATED: Nobel literature prize will not be awarded this year

Iraq celebrated the announcement, with state TV interrupting normal program to report Murad’s win.

Both honorees are the first from their countries to receive a Nobel Prize.

“I am proud to be Congolese,” said the country’s top opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi, in a Twitter post. “Good done for others always ends up being rewarded.”

The award comes amid heightened attention to sexual abuse of women in the workplace and socially, broadly referred to as the “#MeToo” movement.

“MeToo and war crimes is not quite the same thing, but they do however have in common that it is important to see the suffering of women,” said Reiss-Andersen.

The 2018 prize is worth 9 million Swedish kronor ($1.01 million). Last year’s winner was the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

In other Nobel prizes this year, the medicine prize went Monday to James Allison of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University, whose discoveries helped cancer doctors fight many advanced-stage tumors and save an “untold” numbers of lives.

Scientists from the United States, Canada and France shared the physics prize Tuesday for revolutionizing the use of lasers in research.

On Wednesday, three researchers who “harnessed the power of evolution” to produce enzymes and antibodies that have led to a new bestselling drug won the Nobel Prize in chemistry.

The winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, honouring Alfred Nobel, the founder of the five Nobel Prizes, will be revealed on Monday.

No Nobel literature prize will be awarded this year due to a sex abuse scandal at the Swedish Academy, which chooses the winner. The academy plans to announce both the 2018 and the 2019 winner next year — although the head of the Nobel Foundation has said the body must fix its tarnished reputation first.

The man at the centre of the Swedish Academy scandal, Jean-Claude Arnault, a major cultural figure in Sweden, was sentenced Monday to two years in prison for rape.

Mark Lewis And Jim Heintz, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Producers losing money on every barrel sold

Price for Western Canadian Oilsands bitumen so low

Castor man killed in collision

Pronounced deceased at scene

Ponoka County fire crews handle second baler fire in 12 hours

Fire crews handled a baler fire just west of Gull Lake

Liberals take aim at responsible gun owners

Trudeau government should fight gangs, organized crime, focus on firearms smuggled into Canada

Remarkable Viking history shouldn’t be connected to anti-immigrant group

Soldiers of Odin should stop using Viking mythology in modern politics

Singer k.d. lang receives Alberta’s highest honour

Celebrated singer-songwriter k.d. lang received the Alberta Order of Excellence in Edmonton

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Pot sales down by nearly 70% on Day 2 of legalization in B.C.

Several products on BC Cannabis Store are still sold out

Colourfully named cannabis products appeal to youth, Tory health critic says

Conservative health critic Marilyn Gladu says the Liberal government needs to do more to ensure cannabis products available online are not enticing to young people

B.C. high school teacher faces sexual assault charges

A Mt. Boucherie teacher has been charged with child luring, sexual exploitation and sexual assault.

Fashion Fridays: You can never have enough shoes

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Migrants, police mass in town on Guatemala-Mexico border

Many of the more than 2,000 Hondurans in a migrant caravan trying to wend its way to the United States left spontaneously with little more than the clothes on their backs and what they could quickly throw into backpacks.

Trump: ‘Severe’ consequences if Saudis murdered Khashoggi

Pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak on Wednesday said it had obtained audio recordings of the alleged killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Most Read