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.
I accept the 2018 #Nobel Peace Prize in the name of the #Congolese people and dedicate it to all victims of sexual violence across the world. Together, we must use this recognition as an opportunity to draw a red line against sexual violence as a weapon of war. 1/4 pic.twitter.com/G3VzBovG4A— Denis Mukwege (@DenisMukwege) December 10, 2018
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.
"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.
I am grateful to be in Oslo with Ms. @NadiaMuradBasee to accept the 2018 #Nobel Peace Prize and I am humbled by the many members of the Congolese community and friends of the Panzi family who have traveled here from across the globe to join our quest to end impunity. pic.twitter.com/13JaNbVdTn— Denis Mukwege (@DenisMukwege) December 10, 2018
"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.
"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.”