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Girls & Women

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Nadia Murad Urges the World to Fight for Sexual Violence Survivors


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Women and girls living in conflict are major targets for sexual violence. Nobel Peace Prize recipients Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege are calling on the international community to seek justice for sexual violence in light of their wins. You can join us in taking action on this issue here.

Now that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege drew global attention to sexual violence against women, the activists say it’s time for the world to take a real stand against abuse. 

Mukwege and Murad called on the international community to seek justice for war rape victims at a news conference Sunday and during their prize award ceremony Monday in Oslo, according, to the Associated Press. 

Surgeon Mukwege was honored for serving tens of thousands of women who were raped as a result of conflict over mineral wealth, for two decades at the hospital he founded in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Murad, a 25-year-old member of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, won for her advocacy for sex abuse survivors after being kidnapped and sexually abused by Islamic State militants in 2014. The two split the $1 million prize amount. 

Take Action: Tell World Leaders to Redouble Their Efforts By Amending Laws to Prevent Sexual Violence

"The fact remains that the only prize in the world that can restore our dignity is justice and the prosecution of criminals," Murad said at the award ceremony Monday, according to ABC. 

In October, Murad announced she’ll be using all $500,000 of her prize money to campaign for justice for her community. Murad was one of an estimated 3,000 Yazidi girls and women who was sold into sex slavery in 2014. Since 2014, the Islamic state has carried out a mass persecution and genocide of the Yazidi religious and ethnic minority who reside in Northern Iraq. Global Citizens campaigned to have the genocide considered a war crime by the International Criminal Court.

Read More: The Victims of the Yazidi Genocide Are Now One Step Closer to Justice

"The protection of the Yazidis and all vulnerable communities around the world is the responsibility of the international community," Murad said, according to Straits Times. 

The threat against Yazidi women is ongoing. More than 3,000 women and children are still being held as sex slaves, according to ABC. 

Only 19 at the time she was captured, Murad finally escaped three months later and chose to share her experience with the world. Sunday she admitted to the crowd doing advocacy work around he very personal issue isn’t always easy.

Murad explained the realities of sexual violence against women Monday after receiving her prize. 

"Young girls at the prime of life are sold, bought, held captive and raped every day,”  she said.

“It is inconceivable that the conscience of the leaders of 195 countries around the world is not mobilized to liberate these girls," Murad went on. 

Read More: Nadia Murad Is Using 100% of Her Nobel Peace Prize Money to Fight Sex Trafficking

"What if they were a commercial deal, an oil field or a shipment of weapons?” she asked. “Most certainly, no efforts would be spared to liberate them." 

Even after a conflict ends, the impacts of sexual violence continue often result in unwanted pregnancies, transmitted infections or stigmatization, according to the UN. Mukwege shared solutions for treating sexual violence against women at the news conference Sunday. 

“We need to realize 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,” Mukwege said

He also explained more needs to be done to prevent sexual violence from happening in the first place.

“What we see during armed conflicts is that women’s bodies become battlefields and this cannot be acceptable during our time,” Mukwege concluded

“We cannot only denounce it, we now need to act.”

Take Action: Help Get Justice for the Yazidi People Who Faced Genocide