The Congolese doctor who shares this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the use of rape and sexual violence as weapons of war called Monday for strong international action against the abuse, including reparations for victims.
Dr. Denis Mukwege, founder of a hospital in eastern Congo that has treated tens of thousands of victims of the country’s conflicts for two decades, and Iraqi activist Nadia Murad received the prize at a ceremony in the Norwegian capital, Oslo. They split the 9-million-Swedish-kronor ($1 million) amount.
Nadia Murah and Denis Mukwege
In an address interrupted by frequent applause, Mukwege criticized the international community for allowing Congolese to be “humiliated, abused and massacred for more than two decades in plain sight.”
“I insist on reparations, measures that give survivors compensation and satisfaction and enable them to start a new life,” he said. “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.”
Dozens of armed groups in Congo profit from mining the country’s trillions of dollars’ worth of mineral resources, many of which are crucial to popular electronic products such as smartphones.
“As consumers, let us at least insist that these products are manufactured with respect for human dignity. Turning a blind eye to this tragedy is being complicit,” Mukwege said. An outspoken critic of Congo’s government, he added: “My country is being systematically looted with the complicity of people claiming to be our leaders.”