Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad have been awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in trying to end sexual violence during war and armed conflict. There are many tragedies in war and among the worst are victims of sexual violence. Women’s bodies have become battle sites and sexual violence a weapon of war.
Denis Mukwege is a medic based in the Democratic Republic of Congo and he and his staff have helped thousands of victims abused in its prolonged and bloody wars – and many more forcibly removed people besides. Mukwege also speaks, at much risk to himself, against Congolese governments and others who shield military rapists.
Murad is one such victim, developing a global witness as a UN Goodwill Ambassador to the abuse she suffered as a Yazidi at the hands of Islamic State. She has campaigned for the protection of survivors of human trafficking.
It is a comment frequently made that the Nobel Peace Prize is a contradiction, founded for “the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses” by an armaments manufacturer, notable for inventing dynamite.
Handing over the awarding of the Peace Prize to a five-person committee appointed by the Norwegian parliament, rather than to Sweden, reflects Norway’s long-established engagement in facilitating peace negotiations. Well before the Peace Prize was inaugurated in 1901, the Norwegian government was assisting the European Inter-Parliamentary Union’s work on mediation, an involvement in conflict resolution that continues to this day.