Dr. Zeeshan Khan |
“At some point, there was rape and nothing else. This becomes your normal day,” Ms. Murad wrote in her autobiography, “The Last Girl.” “You don’t know who will open the door next to attack you, just that, it will happen and that tomorrow might be worse.” She continued, “There is only rape; the numbness that comes with accepting that this is now your life.” But she eventually escaped. I read the book of Nadia Murad at the start of 2018.
In the midst of a global reckoning over sexual violence, a woman who was forced into sexual slavery by the Islamic State and a Congolese gynecological surgeon were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their campaigns to end the use of mass rape as a weapon of war.
This Nobel Prize reflects the recognition of suffering and the lack of just reparation for women victims of rape and sexual violence in all countries of the world.
The award went to Nadia Murad, 25, who became the voice and face of women who survived sexual violence by the Islamic State, and to Dr. Denis Mukwege, 63, who has treated thousands of women in a country once called the rape capital of the world. They have worked through grave risks to their own lives to help survivors and to bring their stories to the world.
The World wanted to send out a message of awareness that women, who constitute half of the population in most communities, actually are used as a weapon of war, and that they need protection and that the perpetrators have to be prosecuted and held responsible for their actions.
In a year when women have turned the world’s attention to an epidemic of sexual abuse in the home and in the workplace, the award cast a spotlight on two global regions where women have paid a devastating price for years of armed conflict and was a rebuke to what the failure of the global community to prosecute perpetrators of wartime sexual violence.
Dr. Mukwege’s work, meanwhile, has been centered on a conflict half a world away in one of the most traumatized places on the planet, where villagers have fallen prey to militias, bandits, government soldiers, and foreign armies: the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
In the hail of bullets that followed but Dr. Mukwege threw himself on the ground and somehow survived. He spent more than two months in exile but decided that he had to return.
In a bare hospital in the hills above Bukavu, where for years there was little electricity or enough anesthetic, he performed surgery on countless women and campaigned relentlessly to bring attention to their plight. This Nobel Prize reflects the recognition of suffering and the lack of just reparation for women victims of rape and sexual violence in all countries of the world.
Ms. Murad was of the view that persecution of minorities must end. Ms. Murad, along with her family, was at the center of ISIS’ campaign of ethnic cleansing. The majority of women who escaped refused to be named, Ms. Murad insisted that she be identified and photographed, and her advocacy helped to persuade the United States, State Department to recognize the genocide of her people at the hands of the terrorist group.
During captivity, Ms. Murad was taken to a slave market, where she was sold to an ISIS judge. While the wives of ISIS members were ordered to wear full-covering face veils and gloves, Ms. Murad was forced to wear makeup and suggestive dresses with spaghetti straps. For years afterward, she refused to wear makeup. She embarked on a worldwide campaign, speaking before the United Nations Security Council and other global bodies.
In Yazidi villages in her former homeland, she has become an icon. Many carry her image on their cellphones. Ms. Murad has said that she was exhausted by having to repeatedly speak out, but she said she knew that other Yazidi women were being raped back home. “I will go back to my life when women in captivity go back to their lives when my community has a place when I see people accountable for their crimes.” In her autobiography, Ms. Murad writes: “I want to be the last girl in the world with a story like mine.”
Both noble laureates have taken on the herculean task of trying to denuclearize the world of ‘Sex Abuse & Violence’ and now the world has to support to remove it practically.
In Congo, the injuries Dr. Mukwege has treated are ghastly: women who have had assault rifles stuck inside them; others pierced with chunks of wood; some victims collapsing on the hospital steps with deep rope burns on their necks from where they had been lashed to trees. Dr. Mukwege has also treated 2-year-olds and women in their 70s. “It’s not a women question; it’s a humanity question, and men have to take responsibility to end it,” Dr. Mukwege once said in an interview. “It’s not an Africa problem. In Bosnia, Syria, Liberia, Colombia, you have the same thing.”
In 2012, Dr. Mukwege delivered a fiery speech at the United Nations, upbraiding the Congolese government and other nations for not doing enough to stop what he called “an unjust war that has used violence against women and rape as a strategy of war.” His advocacy nearly cost him his life.
Shortly after the speech, when he returned to Congo, four armed men crept into his compound in Bukavu. They took his children hostage and waited for him to return from work. In the hail of bullets that followed but Dr. Mukwege threw himself on the ground and somehow survived. He spent more than two months in exile but decided that he had to return.
“To treat women for the first time, the second time, and now I’m treating the children born after the rape,” Dr. Mukwege said. When he returned, he received a hero’s welcome. He urged hope and forgiveness to the people. Both noble laureates have taken on the herculean task of trying to denuclearize the world of ‘Sex Abuse & Violence’ and now the world has to support to remove it practically.
Dr. Zeeshan Khan is a medical doctor by profession, a content writer, freelance writer, certified trainer and Poet. He is a motivational speaker, Cultural-cum-Political Analyst and columnist and has written for a number of English and Urdu dailies like Dawn, Express Tribune, The Business, The Educationist and Roznama Pakistan etc. He is also Alumni of LUMS and Winner of all Pakistan Ubqari story Writing Competition. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.