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Ending Wartime Sexual Violence

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to two activists for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence in armed conflict. But if their efforts are to lead to real change, heightened awareness must be turned into concerted action, and recent research can help.

BERLIN/ZURICH – On December 10, Denis Mukwege, a physician from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi survivor of sexual slavery by the Islamic State, will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.”

Mukwege and Murad are worthy Nobel laureates, for they have raised global consciousness about the prevalence of the problem. But if their efforts are to lead to real change, heightened awareness must be turned into concerted action.

Prosecuting perpetrators is often held up as one solution, but in most cases, criminal charges are not a timely deterrent. We need to reduce sexual violence during war. Fortunately, new research can help frame the problem and guide policymakers toward effective solutions.

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