Denis Mukwege: The Rape Surgeon of DR Congo

dr-mukwegeDenis Mukwege is a gynaecologist working in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He and his colleagues have treated about 30,000 rape victims, developing great expertise in the treatment of serious sexual injuries. His story includes disturbing accounts of rape as a weapon of war.

Rape victims have sometimes filled most of the 350 beds in Denis Mukwege's hospital. Funded by Unicef and other donors, it also operates a mobile clinic and microfinance initiative. He has received many international prizes, including in 2008 the UN Human Rights Prize. He was named African of the Year in 2009.

When war broke out, 35 patients in my hospital in Lemera in eastern DR Congo were killed in their beds.

I fled to Bukavu, 100km (60 miles) to the north, and started a hospital made from tents. I built a maternity ward with an operating theatre. In 1998, everything was destroyed again. So, I started all over again in 1999.

It was that year that our first rape victim was brought into the hospital. After being raped, bullets had been fired into her genitals and thighs.

Rape victim

I thought that was a barbaric act of war, but the real shock came three months later. Forty-five women came to us with the same story, they were all saying: "People came into my village and raped me, tortured me."

Other women came to us with burns. They said that after they had been raped chemicals had been poured on their genitals.

I started to ask myself what was going on. These weren't just violent acts of war, but part of a strategy. You had situations where multiple people were raped at the same time, publicly – a whole village might be raped during the night. In doing this, they hurt not just the victims but the whole community, which they force to watch.

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Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21499068

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