This year, there were 331 nominees for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, of which 216 were individuals and 115 were groups. 2018, being one of the most eventful years, there were many nominees to give honorable mentions to. Moon Jae-in for taking tentative actions in nuclear disarmament and UNHCR (U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees) for helping those fleeing persecution around the world would be great examples of such honorable mentions.
However, on the evening of October 5th, among the many potential nominees, the winners of the prestigious award went to two highly-regarded advocates against sexual violence: Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad.
Mukwege, a certified surgeon in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has long thrived to treat a myriad of sexual violence and rape victims. When he first noticed the injuries of a woman who had been raped by a soldier, he was strongly appalled by not only the gruesome lacerations, but also by the inhumane planning behind it. During the Second Congo War, militia commanders operated mass campaigns of rape to suppress the whole population. Dr. Mukwege is a part of the few surgeons in the Democratic Republic of Congo to cure the injured. He has currently operated on more than 20,000 patients of sexual violence in Panzi Hospital which he initiated in 1999, and continues to further devote his life for the good of the world.
Murad was rather a passionate campaigner against rape as a weapon of war. Just until the Islamic State intruded her village in Iraq in 2014, she was a quiet, young 21 year-old girl zealous about her studies. However, the jihadists brutally murdered her family including six of her brothers, stepbrothers, and her mother; they also took Murad away as a sex slave, at a slave market. After many years of severe persecution, she was able to come out of her shell and share her story to the world, stating that the Islamic State had to be held accountable for the genocide of the Yazidis.
At age 23, she was considered as a UN goodwill ambassador for her true devotion towards sex victims. Due to her successful dignity on survivors of human trafficking, the UN has commenced an investigation into the brutal actions of the Islamic State.
“Both laureates have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen – chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee – at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo.
Sexual violence in war is utterly prevalent, and many are not aware of this fact. Women and girls are targeted to instill widespread fear among the civilian members of an ethnic group.
According to UNICEF, “systematic rape is used as a weapon of war in ethnic cleansing”. With the implementation of gang rape in armed conflicts, it is known for the militia commanders to create an enhanced feeling of masculinity through boasting, demonstrate the willingness to take risks, and establish an aggressive reputation. However, this thought process is inhumane; since when did the definition of a strong-armed force correspond with the amount of rape against females?
It is indeed blatantly unacceptable for war rape to be served as a primary tool to build a cohesive military, but this act has been going on for centuries worldwide – not only in wars, but also among our society. Rape culture should not be pervasive and needs to be eradicated at all times.
Jessica Jimin Kim, Grade 11
Chadwick International School