This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to two people, rather than the typical solo winner. Nadia Murad and Dr. Denis Mukwege received the award for their efforts to end the use of mass rape as a weapon of war. Both worked to help survivors of sexual assault, despite the risk to their own lives. Through their works they have expanded the scope of the #Metoo movement to one of an international scale. Their efforts show the struggle against sexism is by no means limited to Western cultures.
In war-torn countries, weapons of war are not limited to those involving gunpowder. Sexual violence has been, and continues to be, a serious threat to women and children. It can be anything from organized efforts encouraged by armed groups to efforts made by individuals in the name of their organization.
Nadia Murad, a 25-year-old woman from northern Iraq, has herself been a victim of these efforts. In 2014, she was one of the thousands of Yazidi women to be kidnapped by the Islamic state and sold into slavery. It was during this time she was raped and tortured by multiple ISIS militantants before finally escaping. Many were kept by their captors for far longer. Some who escape such conditions refuse to reveal their stories, out of fear of retribution from their former captors. Murad, on the other hand, fearlessly recounted her story, revealing her identity and even allowing herself to be photographed. Now she helps other survivors spread their stories and experiences, in hopes that it will bring about change.
While Nadia addressed the issue of lack of awareness, Dr. Denis Mukwege attempted to salvage the physical wellbeing of women who had been raped with extreme violence. As a gynecologist in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an area known as the ‘rape capital’ of the world, Dr. Mukwege witnesses the horrors of sexual violence every day.
A Times reporter recounts his experience with the man as polite, humble and exhausted. The man was visibly tired, having spent innumerable hours in the hospital performing ten life-saving operations each day. As the years went by, his victims recounted where and how they received their wounds. This led to his outspoken opinions, which allowed him to help the abused women in his country. This stand is what nearly got him killed in 2012, when a man broke into his home and shot him. Still, this did not hinder him from treating more patients after his recovery.
With such widespread success of the #Metoo movement, it is hoped that the international spotlight will be turned to countries that are the most in need of justice. Until recently, Western countries have paid little to no attention to the atrocious sex crimes happening beyond their borders. This is something that has even been criticised by Norwegian Nobel Committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen. With the aid of these two individuals, it is possible for the international community to finally extend the push for justice to even the most remote areas.