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In a nod to #MeToo, Nobel Peace Prize signals increased attention to sexual violence

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Rachel Rhodes

The 2018 Noble Peace Prize was awarded this week to advocates of policies that address the use of sexual violence against women. The laureates were Dr. Denis Mukwege, a physician from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nadia Murad, an Iraqi victim of the Islamic State.


Sabrina Karim

Assistant Professor of Government

Sabrina Karim, assistant professor in Cornell University’s department of government and an expert on the relationship between gender and violence, says that the awarding the prize to Mukwege and Murad sends a message about the importance of addressing sexual violence, even as it continues to prevalent around the world.

Karim says:

“Wartime sexual violence is prevalent in many conflicts around the world. It has been the center of international policymaking over the past decade through United Nations Security Council Resolutions (1820, 1888, 1889 2106). Giving the Nobel Peace Prize to activists who have helped to raise global awareness about the issue, sometimes at great personal cost, will likely strengthen resolve around prosecuting offenders at the international level.

“Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege sends a clear message about the importance of addressing the widespread problem of wartime sexual violence during conflicts. It comes at a time when government and insurgent soldiers around the world continue to use rape to threaten communities. The focus this year on sexual violence is also a slight nod to the global #MeToo movement as the prize winners’ work demonstrates the importance of speaking out about sexual violence, abuse, and harassment more broadly.”


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