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Iraqi Women's Rights Activist Wins Norway's Rafto Prize

The chairman of Norway's Rafto prize committee, Martin Paulsen, announced that this year's award will go to Iraqi women's rights activist Yanar Muhammad.

Activist Yanar Mohammed has been awarded Norway's 2016 Rafto Prize for her "work on behalf of women and minorities in war-torn Iraq."

The 55-year-old journalist and researcher heads the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, which she founded in 2003. It works with local groups to teach about human rights and offers shelter to women who are victims of violence.

"Sexual violence is often part of battle plans, and Iraq is just one of many places where women's rights are sacrificed for political and military objectives," the Rafto jury said.

In Iraq, it said, "there has been a huge increase in abuse and violence against women, including rape, abduction into prostitution, and honor killings."

Worth $20,000, the prize was created in 1986 in memory of Thorolf Rafto, a Norwegian academic and human rights activist and is administered by the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights.

Last year, Honduran Catholic priest Ismael Moreno Coto won the award. Previous Rafto Prize winners include Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi and Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, both of whom later became Nobel laureates.

Based on reporting by dpa and AFP