Nobel Peace Prize honours the fight against sexual violence

The Nobel Peace Prize on Friday was awarded to a Congolese doctor and an Iraqi woman

The Nobel Peace Prize on Friday was awarded to a Congolese doctor and an Iraqi woman who was held captive by the Islamic State group for their work to highlight and eliminate the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad “have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in its announcement.

“Denis Mukwege is the helper who has devoted his life to defending these victims. Nadia Murad is the witness who tells of the abuses perpetrated against herself and others.”

Mukwege, 63, founded a hospital in eastern Congo’s Bukavu and has treated thousands of women, many of whom were victims of gang rape. Armed men tried to kill him in 2012, forcing him to temporarily leave the country.

RELATED: Canadian female physicist wins Nobel Prize

“The importance of Dr. Mukwege’s enduring, dedicated and selfless efforts in this field cannot be overstated. He has repeatedly condemned impunity for mass rape and criticized the Congolese government and other countries for not doing enough to stop the use of sexual violence against women as a strategy and weapon of war,” the Nobel committee said in its citation Friday.

Eastern Congo has seen more than two decades of conflict among armed groups that either sought to unseat presidents or simply grab control of a piece of the country’s vast mineral wealth.

Murad is one of an estimated 3,000 Yazidi girls and women who were victims of rape and other abuses by IS militants. She managed to escape after three months and chose to speak about her experiences. At the age of 23, she was named the U.N.’s first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.

Her book, “The Last Girl,” tells of her captivity, the loss of her family and her eventual escape.

The Yazidis are an ancient religious minority, falsely branded as devil-worshippers by Sunni Muslim extremists. IS, adopting a radical interpretation of ancient Islamic texts, declared that Yazidi women and even young girls could be taken as slaves.

“We want to send a message that women who constitute half the population in those communities actually are used as weapons and that they need protection, and that the perpetrators have to be prosecuted and held responsible,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairwoman of the Norwegian committee.

Congo’s government congratulated Mukwege while acknowledging that relations with him have been strained.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende told The Associated Press that Mukwege did “remarkable” work, though he said the laureate tended to politicize it. However, “we salute that a colleague is recognized,” he said.

RELATED: Nobel literature prize will not be awarded this year

Iraq celebrated the announcement, with state TV interrupting normal program to report Murad’s win.

Both honorees are the first from their countries to receive a Nobel Prize.

“I am proud to be Congolese,” said the country’s top opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi, in a Twitter post. “Good done for others always ends up being rewarded.”

The award comes amid heightened attention to sexual abuse of women in the workplace and socially, broadly referred to as the “#MeToo” movement.

“MeToo and war crimes is not quite the same thing, but they do however have in common that it is important to see the suffering of women,” said Reiss-Andersen.

The 2018 prize is worth 9 million Swedish kronor ($1.01 million). Last year’s winner was the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

In other Nobel prizes this year, the medicine prize went Monday to James Allison of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University, whose discoveries helped cancer doctors fight many advanced-stage tumors and save an “untold” numbers of lives.

Scientists from the United States, Canada and France shared the physics prize Tuesday for revolutionizing the use of lasers in research.

On Wednesday, three researchers who “harnessed the power of evolution” to produce enzymes and antibodies that have led to a new bestselling drug won the Nobel Prize in chemistry.

The winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, honouring Alfred Nobel, the founder of the five Nobel Prizes, will be revealed on Monday.

No Nobel literature prize will be awarded this year due to a sex abuse scandal at the Swedish Academy, which chooses the winner. The academy plans to announce both the 2018 and the 2019 winner next year — although the head of the Nobel Foundation has said the body must fix its tarnished reputation first.

The man at the centre of the Swedish Academy scandal, Jean-Claude Arnault, a major cultural figure in Sweden, was sentenced Monday to two years in prison for rape.

Mark Lewis And Jim Heintz, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

North Okanagan car club annual show a huge hit with spectators

People didn’t mind the hot weather as they admired all kinds of vintage vehicles at 25th annual show

North Okanagan mayor’s win benefits school lunch programs

Christine Fraser of Spallumcheen won $1,500 in SILGA draw, which goes to not-for-profit programs

Vernon Vipers name Connor Marritt captain

Takes over from graduating veteran, and fellow Okanagan native, Jagger Williamson

Vernon pitcher tosses second no-hitter of season

Jarod Leroux has two no-nos in his last three starts for the BCPBL’s Okanagan Athletics

Okanagan-Shuswap Weather: Heat, sun and a chance of thunderstorms for Father’s Day

Morning pancake breakfasts and fishing derbies across the region will see sun, showers may follow.

VIDEO: Horseback riding helps North Okanagan residents with special needs

North Okanagan Therapeutic Riding Association needs more volunteers to continue offering sessions

Thunderstorm leaves small fire in the Shuswap in its wake

Wildfire crews are also fighting a small fire near Kamloops

South Okanagan pharmacy restricted from dispensing opioid treatment drugs

B.C. College of Pharmacists alleges Sunrise Pharmacy dispensed treatment drugs against rules

Police seek two suspects and car after stabbing in Kelowna

The stabbing took place on Friday evening on Wilson Avenue. It sent one man to hospital.

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Summerland Health Care Auxiliary completes hospital donation pledge early

$1M contribution to medical equipment campaign completed half a year earlier than expected

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Summerland ready for dry summer conditions

Province has declared Level Two drought, but Summerland has not increased watering restrictions

Summerland pioneers had connection to Middlesex, England

Harry Dunsdon and Richard Turner became cattlemen

Most Read