64-year-old gynaecologist, Denis Mukwege, is helping sexually abused victims in Congo get surgical repairs for the horrific damage inflicted on them (Women and Girls)
When the first Congo war broke out between 1996–1997 young women and girls in the country became victims of all manners of sexual abuse. Sexual violence and genital damaging, sadly, became a major and cheap weapon of war perpetuated by either soldiers or militiamen, and then as a result of the widespread of the assault, civilians also joined in.
There was so much brutality against women (and girls) and sexual assault against women grew at an alarming rate, to the extent that it caught the attention of countries all over the world. Unfortunately, that unfair weapon left many young women with emotional and physical scars. In addition, maternal mortality (as a result of conflicts which made it difficult to begin restoration of basic social amenities like hospitals) was on the rise.
In an article written by Cookson in 2010, it revealed that “In Congo, a Dead Rat is Worth more than the Body of a Woman”. It was also reported that “in 2009 more than 15,000 rapes were recorded in Congo, and an average of 40 women were raped daily in the province of South Kivu alone.”
In fact, it became difficult to track the accuracy of the number of victims as the numbers kept increasing each year as more conflicts were taking place in various part of eastern Congo. The assaults against women and children (girls) of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was so terrible that the country was named “the rape capital of the world”.
Perpetrators of these assaults used just about anything, from hand, guns, knives and sticks, to penetrate bodies of captured women and girls, causing chronic health conditions (called fistula— An abnormal connection between the rectum (anus) and the vagina), while some others were left with severely damaged genitals. In addition to these, the victims that survived the monstrous encounters were subjected to stigmas, divorce by the husbands as well as rejection by their community.
Congolese gynaecologist, Denis Mukengere Mukwege (64 years), also known as Dr Denis Mukwege, was shaped by his upbringing (as a child of a Pentecostal minister who watched his father pray for many sick people) to choose his career path.
Dr. Denis Mukwege first worked as a Pediatrician in a rural hospital, Lemera Hospital near Bukavu after graduating from the University of Burundi in 1983. It was during this period he met with the horrific experiences of women who suffered serious pains and complications after birth, mainly because they weren’t given proper care. This experience made him advance in career at the University of Angers, in France, where he studied gynaecology and obstetrics.
Dr. Denis Mukwege founded the Panzi Hospital in 1999, with the aim of helping victims, through reconstructive surgery, who had suffered complex gynaecological damage and trauma.
The hospital has treated over 85,000 patients since inception. In addition, through his hospital Dr. Denis Mukwege is able to provide legal and psycho-social services as well as post-rape medical care for all patients, including those who cannot afford it.
In 2018, Dr. Denis Mukwege won the Nobel Peace Prize award for his contribution to humanity.