Dr Denis Mukwege, Nobel Prize Laureate, has called on the international community to take action against sexual violence against women and to not merely recognise that it is a problem. His comments come after he, together with Nadia Murad, were presented with the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in bringing the world’s attention to the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.
Mukwege, who is a gynaecologist, was honoured for his work in treating sexually abused women at the hospital he founded in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Murad, a Yazidi from Iraq, was honoured for her advocacy for sex abuse victims after she was kidnapped by Isis militants and sold into sexual slavery. Mukwege and Murad will share the $1-million in prize money.
"What we see during armed conflicts is that women's bodies become battlefields and this cannot be acceptable in our time," said Mukwege, speaking through a translator. "We cannot just denounce it. We now need to act," she added.
Murad (25) is one of about 3,000 Yazidi women who were kidnapped by Isis fighters in around 2014. After being sold into sexual slavery, she was raped, beaten and tortured for three months before escaping. After receiving treatment in Germany, Murad chose to tell the world about the horrors faced by Yazidi women, despite the cultural stigma surrounding rape. On December 9th she said it was difficult "for a girl, a woman, to rise up to say that these atrocities have happened."
Mukwege (63) founded a hospital in the city of Bukavu and over the past 20 years has treated countless women who were raped amidst fighting between armed groups seeking control of some of the central African nation's vast mineral wealth.
As well as preventing sexual violence, Mukwege said more effort is needed to attend to victims."We need to realise that any woman who is a victim of sexual violence within her own country, such women should be allowed treatment and it's not only medical treatment, also psychological treatment, judicial treatment," he said.
According to AP, Murad said the psychological burden of her ordeal and her subsequent work is heavy. "I don't want to live in fear. For the last four years I have been in Germany, in a safe place, but yet I'm living full of fear," she said. "I'm scared that these people will not just attack me or have an impact on me, but on anybody else," she concluded.