She had spent so many days and so many nights without foods and rest….. She even forgot whether she had taken a bath, washed her garments or cleaned the dishes… But, she still remembers that she was being raped by men…one after another! One … two … five … 10 … 20 … 50 … how many? She lost count of the perpetrators!
Nadia Murad Basee Taha – the German-based Yazidi-Iraqi human rights activist who was kidnapped and held captive by the Islamic State (IS) terrorists for three months – and Dr Denis Mukwege have jointly been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict“. Twenty-five-year-old Nadia has been working hard to protect the rights of those Yazidi women who were subjected to sexual abuse by the IS. She shared the honour with Dr Mukwege, the Congolese gynaecologist who founded and works in Panzi Hospital in Bukavu. As he specialises in the treatment of women who have been raped by rebel forces, Dr Mukwege is popularly known as “the world’s best expert on repairing injuries of rape“.
Dr Mukwege & Nadia
One of the recipients of this years’ Nobel Peace Prize experienced the pain of rape, but still didn’t give up. Instead, she continues fighting for other victims of rape. The other has been trying to reduce the pain of the rape victims for the last two decades. On October 5, the Nobel Committee honoured these two persons for their efforts to make this world a better place for women with a strong message: “It is important to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.” Delivering a speech in 2016, Dr Mukwege had said: “We have been able to draw a red line against chemical weapons, biological weapons and nuclear arms. Today, we must also draw a red line against rape as a weapon of war.” On October 5, the Nobel Committee drew the red line.
In August 2014, the IS terrorists had attacked Kojo, a Yazidi village in northern Iraq’s Sinjar District, and taken away the girls and children. They used the girls as sex slaves who were repeatedly raped by IS warriors and (then 21-year-old) Nadia was one of them. She had tried to escape, but was gang-raped after getting caught. According to the IS members, it was not rape, but ‘disciplinary sexual jihad’! In her publication – The Last Girl, Nadia says that her life ended on August 15, 2014, when the IS militants massacred the people of her village. They executed her six brothers, mother, took her to Mosul and made a sex slave of her.
This photograph was taken on her engagement day. Her fiance Abid Shamdeen is a human rights activist.
After being held captive by several militants and repeatedly raped, beaten and burned with cigarettes, she somehow managed a narrow escape through the streets of Mosul and found a shelter in the home of a Sunni Muslim family. The eldest son of the family risked his life to smuggle her to safety. And then, she took shelter in Duhok refugee camp in northern Iraq. During her stay in the camp, Nadia’s interview was published in La Libre Belgique, a Belgian daily. The interview helped the Western world recognise the Yazidi girl. In 2015, she was one of 1,000 women and children to benefit from a refugee programme of the Government of Baden-Württemberg (Germany), which became her new home. And in September 2016, she was named the first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking of the UN (UNODC).
The struggle of Dr Mukwege is different. In his words: “I founded the Panzi Hospital in 1999, with the idea of concentrating on maternity care. But, my first patient did not come to give birth. This woman had been raped. Her rapist had shot her at close range in the sexual organs. She had to have six surgical operations before she could return to an approximately normal life. At first, I thought this was an exceptional incident, a barbaric act committed by someone who had taken leave of his senses. But three months later, I had already provided care to 45 women who were the victims of sexual violence.”
So far, Dr Mukwege has treated more than 85,000 rape victims. All of them are the victims of the ongoing civil war in Congo. He told the Nobel committee that he was in the operating theatre when he received the news of the Nobel Prize. “It was when I was operating and I heard people start to cry and it was so, so surprising. I can see in the face of many women how they are happy to be recognised and this is really so touching,” stressed the Congolese surgeon.
The media are yet to get Nadia’s reaction. She is the first Iraqi ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize and the second youngest Nobel recipient. Four years ago, another brave heart had won the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17 – Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan!
However, it remains to be seen how Malala, Nadia, Dr Mukwege and people inspired by them can be able to ensure global peace and harmony…..
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