Nobel Peace Prize 2018 Part II

Nobel Peace Prize 2018 Part II

4: We know this

Although it is impossible to have a complete overview of the extent of sexual abuse in war, a lot is researched, reported and documented. We have highlighted some important points here:

  • Sexual abuse affects both men and women. Sexual abuse does not only affect women, although there is good reason to believe that women make up the majority of the victims. Documentation from prison and interrogation situations shows that men are also exposed to this form of abuse. Traditionally, the help response to survivors of sexual abuse in war has been directed at women and children, and men have thus been systematically overlooked. It can also be a bigger taboo for men to report such abuse than other types of violence. According to the UN, there are also 60 countries that do not have legal provisions that protect men from sexual abuse, so their legal protection against this is weak in large parts of the world.
  • Sexual abuse perpetrated by terrorist and extremist groups appears to be on the rise. Several report that sexual abuse of women and girls (as well as boys and men, but to a lesser extent) is used as a recruitment strategy for terrorist and extremist groups. This is used, among other things, to keep populations in occupied areas in check, to send people on the run and to obtain intelligence information through forced marriages of women. In addition, these abuses are often part of an overarching ideology and set of values ​​based on discrimination against women and sexual minorities. This form of violence thus becomes not just something that happens in the heat of battle, but an integral part of a terrorist ideology where gender roles are to be affected. IS’s extensive attacks on the Yezidis in Iraq and Syria, as well as Boko Haram’s attacks on young schoolgirls in northeastern Nigeria, are examples of this.
  • Children conceived of sexual abuse are overlooked. No one knows the extent of children conceived in rape. Sexual abuse in war and conflict is not just an act of violence that happens there and then – children are born. Sometimes this is exactly the purpose. It is difficult to identify these children, but there is good reason to believe that children conceived through war violence will be particularly vulnerable in their communities. They can also pose an additional burden to their abused mothers, which in turn can lead to further stigmatization of the children.
  • Sexual abuse does not end when the conflict is over. Research has shown that when a conflict is over, sexual violence against women does not necessarily end. A study conducted by researchers at The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) on the use of sexual abuse in active conflicts in the period 1989-2009 shows that there are various groups that use this form of violence and these do not necessarily stop abusing sexually when the conflict is over. The PRIO researchers found that five years after the conflicts were over, it was mostly state actors who carried out the abuses. If sexual abuse does not stop when the war is over, reconstruction and reconciliation will become even more difficult.

5: Challenges today

The past year has been marked by both massive media coverage and documentation of sexual assaults on the Rohingya in Myanmar, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) characterizes it as ethnic cleansing. Abuses against the Yezidis and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria have also been thoroughly documented, and this group belongs to the Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad.

A report to the UN Security Council from March 2018 expresses great concern about the practice of abusers marrying victims to avoid prosecution, and refers to 37 countries that grant amnesty in such cases. This is happening in the active conflicts in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Columbia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan (Darfur), Syria and Yemen. The picture that emerges is that this form of violence is in no way weakened. It is still an integral part of war, conflict and terror.

6: The Peace Prize can help prevent abuse

Denis Mukwege is a doctor at Panzi Hospital in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country located in Africa according to He has worked to provide health care to women who have been sexually abused by various armed groups. He says that what he sees with his patients is like a genocide. The women he has in his hospital are often so devastated both physically and mentally that they fear they will not be able to have children of their own in the future.

Nadia Murad herself has survived abuse for which Mukwege’s patients are treated, but she has refused to be ashamed or silent about what she has experienced. She was held as a sex slave by IS for several months, and has relatives, friends and acquaintances who have experienced and are experiencing the same thing. She wants to give these people a face and pressure international actors to do something about this terrible problem.

Talking about sexual abuse is important because it is a criminal act, both in peace and in war. But it can be difficult to report, find the right words and tell about what has happened. The two Peace Prize winners in 2018 are therefore very important because they make us talk about these things. And only by doing so can more abusers get their punishment and maybe – hopefully – it will prevent more from becoming abusers in the future.

Nobel Peace Prize 2018 2