Anti-rape activists awarded Nobel Prize: I can't think of two more deserving people
05 October 2018
I can’t tell you how pleased I am that 2018 Nobel Peace Prize has been jointly awarded to Dr Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad. Both recipients of the European Parliament´s own Human Rights award, the Sakharov prize, these are two very special people who I have been honoured to meet and have, in their own capacities, worked tirelessly to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.
Dr Denis Mukwege is one of the most extraordinary people I have ever met. He was awarded the European Parliament Sakharov Prize in 2014 for his work as a gynaecologist treating women and girls who are victims of sexual violence. Following that award, he invited us to visit his hospital in the war-torn Eastern Congo, which I did with Socialist Group colleagues the following year. Dr Mukwege has treated more than 50,000 victims of rape since 1999 and the Panzi hospital where he works acts as a haven of protection, providing medical treatment and psychological support to women and girl victims - some as young as 6 months old - who have been subjected to violent rape.
Linda with Dr Mukwege at the Panzi Hospital in the DRC 2015
Dr Mukwege, who lives under constant threat because of his work, spelt out the link between armed gangs and conflict minerals - the kind of minerals we all have in our mobile phones - and asked for our support to end illegal mining. In 2016, following our successful campaign, the EU agreed a new law on track and trace of these minerals which should, as the legislation starts to bite, deprive the armed gangs who carry out much of the violence against women and girls in the DRC of their money to operate.
Linda speaking wtih Dr Mukwege on a panel on gender based violence at the European Development Days Conference in 2018
No less extraordinary is Nadia Murad, who I met in 2016 when both she and Lamiya Aji Bashar were awarded the Sakharov Prize for their international campaign to highlight the persecution, genocide and sexual violence forced on the Yazidi minority by Daesh in Iraq. To date, thousands of women and child are still be held as slaves by Daesh. In her acceptance speech for the prize, Nadia spoke to MEPs about a director of the hospital who bought her and subjected her to unimaginable brutality and torture. While the UN is currently gathering evidence from the victims of this abhorrent group, the fact remains that to date, not a single member of Daesh has been prosecuted. Winning the Nobel Prize will ensure that the mass atrocities suffered by the Yazidi are not forgotten by the international community.
Linda with Nadia Murad & Lamiya Aji Bashar at the Sakharov ceremony in 2016
The award of the Nobel prize to these two activists for women’s rights puts the fight against sexual violence at the top of the global agenda. The international community must now act and do more to combat the kind of atrocities Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad have spoken out about so bravely. Bringing perpetrators to justice must be top of the international agenda.