The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to two figures who have brought attention to ending sexual violence in armed conflict.
Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist, and Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi who has spoken about her own suffering at the hands of the Islamic State, are both witnesses to the way in which the suffering and abuse of women so often stems from conflict.
Mukwege has treated thousands of victims of gang rape from his hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Murad has become an outspoken activist about sexual slavery and human trafficking.
“We want to send out a message of awareness that women, who constitute half of the population in most communities, actually are used as a weapon of war — and that they need protection,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Protecting women and holding perpetrators accountable is a “prerequisite for lasting peace,” Reiss-Andersen said.
The 2018 award also nods at a broader global theme about the treatment of women — their willingness to confront injustices.
The new attention to sexual harassment and sexual assault has upended the entertainment and political world, and earlier this year the Nobel Prize in literature was postponed because of a sexual abuse scandal touching on the Nobel organization.
Reiss-Andersen said that war crimes and the MeToo Movement are “not the same thing,” but it is important that “women leave the concept of shame and speak up.”
Mukwege has long been mentioned as a contender for the award. He is an expert on treating the often-complicated injuries suffered by women from gang rape, and from his hospital near the Rwandan border, he has performed surgeries on women victimized by soldiers or armed rebels. Gunmen attempted to assassinate him in 2012 after he spoke about the need to prosecute those who used rape as a weapon.