The Nobel Peace prize was given to two activists fighting against sexual violence – here’s what you should know about them

Dr Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad jointly won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.
Dr Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad jointly won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.

Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege, two activists fighting sexual violence specifically as it is used as a tool of war, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize recently both for their work with victims of sexual violence and fighting the epidemic.

According to The New York Times, 25-year-old Nadia was abducted and enslaved by the Islamic State in Iraq and she has used her experience to speak out against the genocide of her people, an Iraqi religious minority called the Yazidi. 

CNN reports that thousands of other Yazidi women and girls have been subjected to sex trafficking. Nadia has worked alongside human rights lawyer Amal Clooney to request that the U.N. take action against the genocide of her people. In 2016, at the age of 23, she became the first-ever U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.

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In an interview with, Nadia said that she hopes her award “will help bring justice for those women who suffered from sexual violence.”

The other winner, Dr Denis Mukwege, is a gynaecological surgeon in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where for 20 years he has treated women who have been raped or experienced sexual violence. Dr. Mukwege told CNN that he was performing surgery when he learned he won, and he dedicated his award to survivors.

"For almost 20 years I have witnessed war crimes committed against women, girls and even baby girls not only in my country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also in many other countries," he said. "To the survivors from all over the world, I would like to tell you that through this prize, the world is listening to you and refusing to remain indifferent. The world refuses to sit idly in the face of your suffering."

In a statement, the Norwegian Nobel Committee noted that both winners had made important strides in working to end the abuse of women.

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"Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad have both put their personal security at risk by courageously combating war crimes and seeking justice for the victims," the committee's statement read.

You can also read an in-depth piece about both Nadia and Denis’s work on The Guardian.

The important work these two people are doing for survivors of sexual violence is incredible and important and we hope that this is just another step in the right direction for advocacy for sexual assault victims. 

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