Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege wins joint 2018 Nobel Peace Prize

05 Oct 2018
Financial Nigeria


Dr Mukwege is a joint winner of the prize with Nadia Murad, an Iraqi human rights activist.

Congolese gynaecologist, Denis Mukwege

Dr. Denis Mukwege, a gynaecologist who has treated thousands of victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. He is a joint winner of the prize with Nadia Murad, an Iraqi human rights activist. 

Mukwege and Murad, who were announced winners on Friday by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, were recognised for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon in war.

"The 2018 Peace Laureate is the foremost, most unifying symbol, both nationally and internationally, of the struggle to end sexual violence in war and armed conflicts," the committee said. "Dr Mukwege and his staff have treated thousands of patients who have fallen victim to such assaults."

In an interview with the BBC, Mukwege, 63, said, "It was in 1999 that our first rape victim was brought into the hospital. After being raped, bullets had been fired into her genitals and thighs. I thought that was a barbaric act of war but the real shock came three months later. Forty-five women came to us with the same story, they were all saying: "People came into my village and raped me, tortured me.""

The United Nations estimates that around 200,000 Congolese women have been raped since 1998. Through Panzi Hospital, founded by the gynaecologist, Mukwege provides trauma counseling, and he is regarded as a leading expert on repairing rape injuries. In 2016, at the age of 61, Mukwege was named by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Muraq, 25, is a survivor of sexual slavery by Islamic State in Iraq. She endured three months as a sex slave at the hands of militants. Muraq became an activist for the Yazidi people, a Kurdish religious minority, after escaping ISIS in November 2014. She has since been campaigning to help put an end to human trafficking and other forms of sexual violence.

The Nobel committee said she’s shown “uncommon courage in recounting her own suffering.” Muraq is the first Iraqi to win the award.

Dr. Mukwege is also the first Congolese recipient and the 12th recipient of the award from Africa. Among other African Nobel peace laureates are Desmond Tutu (South Africa, 1984), Nelson Mandela (South Africa, 1993), Kofi Annan (Ghana, 2001), Wangari Maathai (Kenya, 2004) and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia, 2011).

Wole Soyinka is the only Nigerian Nobel laureate having won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986.

The Nobel peace prize money of nine million Swedish crowns ($1 million) will be presented to the winners in Oslo on December 10.

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