- The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege and Yazidi human rights activist Nadia Murad in recognition of their efforts ‘to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict’.
- This year the Nobel committee has recognized the efforts to end the long-neglected problem of use of sexual violence in war.
- Two leaders, Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad have thus been conferred upon the Nobel Peace Prize for their struggle against sexual violence in war.
- Denis Mukwege is a Congolese doctor who has been working for the victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Naria Murad, herself a victim of sexual violence, is an advocate for the Yazidi women rights in Iraq.
- At 25, Naria Murad is the second youngest Nobel Prize laureate after Malala Yousafzai.
About Dr Denis Mukwege
- Mukwege, a gynaecologist in eastern Congo, has worked for the cause of wartime victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- He founded the Panzi hospital in Bukavu, DRC.
- Panzi hospital has served tens of thousands of women who suffered sexual assault in the country’s recurrent civil conflict.
- Under his guidance Panzi foundation has opened several justice centres.
- He has invented surgeries and has helped repair 30,000 rape victims.
- He also provides HIV/AIDS treatment and free maternal care.
- Besides he has also been the head pastor, a teacher a fundraiser and a mentor of hundreds of doctors.
- Democratic Republic of Congo has been described as ‘rape capital of the world’ by the UN in 2008.
- Sexual violence has been used as a tactic of war in Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Unstable political environment, displacement, continued armed clashes and weak State structures are the primary reasons for wartime sexual violence in Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Ever since its independence in 1960, Democratic Republic of Congo is plagued with issue of political and social instability under autocratic rulers.
- Besides from the 1990s the country has been witnessing large-scale influx of refugees from Rwanda and consequent insurgency.
- Thus DRC has been a victim of civil war as a result of ethnic conflicts between the Tutsis, the Hutus, and other groups.
- Recent instability is attributed to the fight between Congolese government and the rebel movement, M23.
- Recent ethnic conflict between Twa and Luba militias has led to alarming levels of ethnically-motivated sexual violence in Tanganyika province.
Ethnically-motivated sexual violence in DRC:
- According to United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), in 2017, there were 804 cases of conflict-related sexual violence.
- During the same period, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reported 5,783 cases of sexual violence in conflict-affected provinces.
- State forces, non-State armed groups and local militias have all been the perpetrators of sexual violence in DRC.
- About 72 per cent of cases in 2017 were attributed to non-State armed groups like Twa militia in Tanganyika, FRPI in Ituri and local militias like Mai-Mai.
- Besides a number of incidents attributed to the Congolese army, FARDC and the Congolese National Police.
- Overall, 42 members of FARDC and 17 members of the national police were convicted by military tribunals of rape.
- Nadia Murad was a victim of sexual violence by Islamic State in 2014 in northern Iraq.
- She was sold repeatedly for sex as part of Islamic State’s slave trade.
- She escaped from the IS captivity in Mosul and became an advocate for the rights of her community around the world.
- In 2017, Murad published a memoir of her ordeal, “The Last Girl”.
- Yazidis are the second-largest religious minority in Iraq, after the Christians.
- The majority of Yazidis live in the north-west of Iraq, in areas surrounding Shingal Mountain and Shekhan district.
- After capturing the city of Mosul in 2014, Yazidis in Shingal area were subjected to mass killings, forced conversions, the abduction of young children and the sexual enslavement of thousands of women and girls.
- According to UN estimates more than 5.000 men were executed, while another 7.000 women and girls were forced into sexual slavery.
- The violence prompted a massive wave of displacement into the Kurdistan Region in Iraq and Syria.
- This campaign of ethnic cleansing through mass killings has been recognised by UN as an act of genocide.
- In 2017, IS was pushed out of its main stronghold in Mosul after whichIraq is undergoing reconciliation.
- As a first step of reconciliation, Yazidis rights must be restored and the international community has been sensitive towards this human rights issue.
- As a result, recognition has been given to efforts in that direction, the primary one being efforts to end sexual violence faced by Yazidi women.