Rape as a weapon of war is the topic of combat that has driven Dr Denis Mukwege for years. The Congolese gynaecologist, who aids women who were victims of rape, has been compensated for his work. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on 5 October 2018, as well as Nadia Murad, former prisoner of the Islamic State, who fights against persecution of the Yazidi people.
Patients have been coming to Dr Denis Mukwege's hospital one after the other and gathering there for what will soon be twenty years. Victims of armed groups in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the women have little by little become a 'tool of mental destruction'. By raping women and young girls, these groups are thus attacking families, weakening communities and breaking the markers of each generation. The entire societal balance is thus affected.
To recount the life of the man who had been guided by his unwavering faith, the Belgian Development Cooperation supported the production of the documentary 'L'homme qui répare les femmes' (The Man Who Mends Women) by Thierry Michel and Colette Braeckman, released in cinemas in 2015. The film specifically covers the attempted assassination targeting Denis Mukwege in 2012.
After a forced exile and a return to the country some months later, he received the Right Livelihood Award in 2013 and the Sakharov Prize in 2014. Today, he lives in his Panzi Hospital in South Kivu on the border with Rwanda, continuously protected by UN forces. Belgium has made a strong commitment to support its action and ensure that its security is ensured.
The Belgian Development Cooperation supported the production of the documentary 'L'homme qui répare les femmes' (The Man Who Mends Women) by Thierry Michel and Colette Braeckman.
Ministers Alexander De Croo and Didier Reynders wanted to acknowledge the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to these two representing the fight against sexual violences as a weapon of war. In particular, Denis Mukwege rose against paedophile violence committed during times of war in his country. A first hearing was carried out at the end of 2017, a Congolese military court condemning 12 militiamen to life sentences in prison for multiple rape cases, including on minors. The list of crimes against humanity remains even longer, and it is difficult to catch those responsible. However, Denis Mukwege is pleased with the increasing number of women daring to testify. His hospital not only offers medical support, but also psychological and legal support.
In 2011, Dr. Mukwege has been awarded the King Baudouin Prize for Development in Africa. Belgium also supports Dr Mukwege and his Panzi Foundation, which is managed by the King Baudouin Foundation. Currently, the Panzi Hospital still admits up to 150 raped women per month. A number that is certainly decreasing, but is startling. Only a sustainable transition toward peace could bring an end to this evil.
But in the mean time, Doctor Mukwege, just as Nadia Murad moreover, is pleading on the platform of the United Nations General Assembly that these crimes do not go unpunished. The commonality of the speeches by the latest two Nobel Peace Prizes: a call for international engagement for the repression of sexual violences committed during armed conflict.
The commonality of the speeches by the latest two Nobel Peace Prizes: a call for international engagement for the repression of sexual violences committed during armed conflict.
Who is Nadia Murad?
This former captive of ISIS also fights against sexual violence. The Yazidi community has been a favoured target of the terrorist group. Abducted in 2014, after the execution of elderly men and women in her village, Nadia Murad was sold as a sex slave. During her time in slavery, between rapes and torture, she passed between the hands of different masters. She was able to escape from Mosul to Kurdistan. She recounts her journey in her book “The Last Girl” and actively campaigns for the recognition of the massacre of the Yazidi as genocide. She has become a UN ambassador for the dignity of human trafficking victims.