Dr Mukwege Speaks about Sexual Violence against Women and Girls
Published: Sep 4 2015
In 1998, amidst the war in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Dr. Mukwege founded the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu. The hospital is globally renowned for its (free) treatment of survivors of sexual violence and women with severe gynaecological problems. The hospital not only treats survivors with physical wounds, but also provides legal and psycho-social services to its patients.
Having treated women with different levels psychological and physical suffering, Dr. Mukwege has been a prime witness to rape used as a weapon of war. “It is a method of torture. It is a way to terrorize the population. When I see some of the injuries on the women and children, I realise this type of violence has little to do with sex and much more with power. It is a type of terrorism,” says Mukwege.
During the height of the conflict in 2006 – 2007, 48 women were raped every hour in Congo. Recent reports from local health centres in South Kivu claim that an estimated 40 women still experience sexual violence every day. Mukwege has little doubt that rape is the “monstrosity of the century”.
Dr. Mukwege is a tireless advocate for the rights of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He has addressed the United Nations General Assembly on the matter and regularly travels abroad raising awareness of the situation of women in war zones and his fight against sexual violence. In addition to the responsibilities involved in managing and administering Panzi Hospital and overseeing projects at the Panzi Foundation, Dr. Mukwege continues to see his patients and perform surgery two days a week.
Dr. Mukwege and the Panzi hospital are supported by the Dutch Stichting Vluchteling en de Nationale Postcode Loterij.
Dr. Denis Mukwege has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades and was named African of the Year in 2009.
Awards and Accolades
2007 – Republic of France Special Human Rights Prize
2008 – UN Human Rights Prize
2009 – Olof Palme Prize
2009 – African of the Year
2009 – Nobel Peace Prize (nominated)
2010 – Honorary doctorate in medicine at Umea University in Sweden
2010 – University of Michigan Raoul Wallenberg Medal
2010 – Van Heuven Goedhart-Penning
2011 – King Baudouin International Development Prize
2011 – Clinton Global Citizen Award
2014 – Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought