Nobel Peace Prize winners: Their plea to the world

Nadia Murad and Dr Denis Mukwege received their prize at a ceremony in Oslo on Monday and both said the international community needed to do more to stop the abuses experienced by women in conflict.

Ms Murad, 25, was one of an estimated 3,000 girls and women from Iraq’s Yazidi minority group who were kidnapped by Islamic State extremists in 2014.

They were sold as sex slaves and she was raped, tortured and beaten for three months before she managed to escape to Iraqi Kurdistan.

While in a refugee camp she learned that six of her brothers and her mother had been killed.

She was taken in by Germany, where she was treated and has since settled with her sister.

But her courage did not stop at her own survival and recovery – she spoke out about her experience, despite the stigma surrounding rape in her culture.

She dedicated herself to what she described as “our people’s fight”.

Since then she has met and inspired many world leaders, including German chancellor Angela Merkel, US vice president Mike Pence, French president Emmanuel Macron and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.

Her book published last year – The Last Girl – contained a foreword penned by human rights activist and lawyer Amal Clooney, a keen supporter.

She has won a number of awards, including the European Union’s 2016 Sakharov human rights prize, and she was named the UN’s first goodwill ambassador for the dignity of survivors of human trafficking that year at the age of 23.

And in August she announced her engagement to fellow Yazidi activist Abid Shamdeen, saying: “The struggle of our people brought us together and we will continue this path together”.

The Nobel committee described her as having shown “uncommon courage in recounting her own sufferings and speaking up on behalf of other victims”.

The abuses she and her people had suffered were “systematic and part of a military strategy”, the committee said, adding that they “served as a weapon in the fight against Yazidis and other religious minorities”.

But Ms Murad is not finished – she wants justice in court against those who abused her and her people.

Speaking after receiving the Nobel Prize, she said: “For almost four years, I have been travelling around the world to tell my story and that of my community and other vulnerable communities, without having achieved any justice.

“If we do not want to repeat cases of rape and captivity against women, we must hold to account those who have used sexual violence as a weapon to commit crimes against women and girls.”

“Young girls at the prime of life are sold, bought, held captive and raped every day,” she added.

“It is inconceivable that the conscience of the leaders of 195 countries around the world is not mobilised to liberate these girls.

“What if they were a commercial deal, an oil field or a shipment of weapons? Most certainly, no efforts would be spared to liberate them.”

She told the audience, which included the Norwegian royal family: “Every day I hear the screams of children in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

“Every day we see hundreds of women and children in Africa and other countries becoming murder projects fuel for wars, without anyone moving in to help them or hold to account those who commit these crimes.

“Thank you very much for this honour, but the fact remains that the only prize in the world that can restore our dignity is justice and the prosecution of criminals.

“There is no award that can compensate for our people and our loved ones who were killed solely because they were Yazidis.

“The only prize that will restore a normal life between our people and our friends is justice and protection for the rest of this community.”

Her co-winner Dr Mukwege was honoured for his work helping sexually abused women at a hospital he founded in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He criticised the international community for allowing his people to be “humiliated, abused and massacred for more than two decades in plain sight”.

He added: “I call on states to support the initiative to create a global fund for reparations for victims of sexual violence in armed conflicts.”

He said countries should take a stand against “leaders who have tolerated, or worse, used sexual violence to take power.

“This red line would consist of imposing economic and political sanctions on these leaders and taking them to court.”

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