Dr. Denis Mukwege: the man who repairs women victims of sexual violence
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Quote from Martin Luther King.
In 2018, gynaecologist-obstetrician and human rights activist Dr Demis Mukwege was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with women victims of sexual violence in the DRC. This quote from Martin Luther King perfectly sums up his struggle.
The birth of a man with a big heart
Born on March 1, 1955 in Bukavu, Belgian Congo, Dr. Mukwege is the son of a pastor. He is used to accompanying his Pentecostal Pastor Father, who regularly visits his sick parishioners to pray for them.
« Whenever there was a sick person in a Protestant family, my father was solicited. He went to see the patient, prayed, took him to the hospital if necessary… And I was with him,” he explains.
During a visit from his father to pray for a seriously ill child of 8 eight. He complains about the situation of this young child, who is not receiving any medical treatment. His father explains to him that he is not a doctor, but a pastor. And that at his level, he can only pray for this boy.
« I explained to my father that he would continue to pray, but that I would become a doctor, and that I would give injections to the sick.… »
His vocation was born. The desire to save lives and change the world grew within him. After successfully completing his brilliant studies, he received his medical degree in 1983. He left for France to pursue a specialization in gynaecology at the University of Angers and became a doctor of medical sciences at the University of Brussels in 2015.
En 1989, il décide avec sa femme et ses trois enfants de retourner au pays. Il devient médecin In 1989, he and his wife and three children decided to return home. He became the managing doctor for Lemera Hospital in Zaire. In 1996, following the first war in Congo, his hospital was destroyed. Later, in 1999, he founded Panzi Hospital in Bukavu.
Sexual violence: the sad reality of the country.
- First Congo War (November 1996 to 17 May 1997)
- Second Congo War (August 2, 1998 to June 30, 2003)
In eastern North and South Kivu provinces, many armed groups brutalize and oppress the local population because of the Coltan mines, which are used to make mobile phones.
These barbaric armed groups use rape as a weapon of war to drive people away from these regions. This war has been going on for more than 20 years and Dr. Mukwegue is saddened and shocked by the horrors he has witnessed. He receives in his hospital many women, children and men who are victims of sexual violence and who have undergone genital mutilation.
« This is our reality today in the DRC,” he told the audience. Babies, mothers, grandmothers, and even boys are cruelly raped in public. They are sometimes inserted with hot plastic or sharp objects in their genitals… The Congolese people have been humiliated and mistreated for more than two decades. »
Through his foundation and the hospital, Dr. Mukwegue alerts us about the living conditions of these women. He also decided to help them through surgical operations. He provides them with medical, psychological and legal assistance. Since 1999, her hospital has treated more than 40,000 women victims of sexual violence.
” It is never with a cheerful heart that I leave the operating theatre – so many operations to be carried out, so many women who arrive, again, again, and who need help – but I must take every opportunity to tell the world what is happening in Congo and try to make it accountable for what is now a weapon of war. »
Mutilated women who suffer in silence.
The doctor discovers mutilated women. Some were opened with machetes like cattle, from the vagina to the breasts. Others were raped with Kalashnikovs. Their bodies were both raped and abused, before being rejected. These dirty and dishonoured women are then rejected by their husbands and families. They end up being collateral damage, forgotten victims who are rejected by all.
The case of Sarah, a young victim of violence from these armed groups, greatly affected the doctor. He explains:
« If people like Sarah don’t give up, who are we to do it? »
Sarah’s story is a shocking one. The girl was taken into the forest and tied naked to a tree. Armed groups massacred his family. She was gang-raped every day. When she arrived at the hospital, she could no longer stand or hold her urine and stool. But his taste for life helped him to hold on.
« Every day that passed, she encouraged the caregivers not to lose hope. Every day, Sarah fought for her survival. Today, she is a beautiful woman, strong, smiling and charming. »
Today, she bought a piece of land and became independent. His fighting spirit and determination show that we can survive the darkness.
Attempted assassination of Dr. Mukwegue.
Every day, he fights as hard as he can to repair the women victims of these attacks. But his work bothers those who wish to create a climate of instability and fear in the region. He was in turn the victim of an assassination attempt on 25 October 2012. He managed to escape, but the guard of his house was found dead. He left the Congo for a while and decided to go into exile in Belgium. Courageous, he decides to come back to finish the work he started. Many women in Kivu need him. He continued his fight in the Panzien hospital, permanently living with soldiers from the United Nations Mission in Congo (MONUSCO).
Honours and Awards
His courage and fight are internationally acclaimed. People are admiring this brave Dr. who repairs women as best he can.
- 2008: he was awarded the United Nations Human Rights Prize.
- 2009: he is decorated with the Legion of Honour by France.
- 2011: he wins the King Baudouin Prize for Development in Africa.
- 2014: The European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought
- 2018 : Nobel Peace Prize for Dr. Mukwegue. It dedicates its prize to all victims of sexual violence in the world.
Love and faith in the face of the horror of war.
In addition to his medical activity, he is a pastor in a church in Bukavu in the Belgian Congo. His faith, his love for God is what allows him to move assemblies. This allows her to cope with the suffering of her women. The man who repairs women continues to struggle with the darkness of the world around him. He risks his life every day for the good of these women subscribers of all.
« Without faith, I don’t see what I could have done. »
Dr. Denis Mukwege
I am really upset by these mutilated victims, who are suffering in the DRC. If you know women, children, or men who are victims of sexual violence. For the love of God, be compassionate. Be kind to them and help them. Afroculture.net warmly thanks Dr. Mukwege for his kindness and kindness to those who suffer. I know that God is merciful and that one day justice will be done, perhaps not on earth, but in heaven, for those who suffer.
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