In October, 2012, Dr. Denis Mukwege, founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and renowned gynecological surgeon who has treated thousands of victims of sexual assault and brutal rape, was the target of an assassination attempt in his home in Bukavu. His family was terrorized, and his trusted aide and guard, Joseph Bizimana, was murdered while defending Dr. Mukwege. After the attack, the Mukwege family left the DRC and took refuge in Belgium, and then in the US for several weeks. His absence from Panzi was keenly felt, and his return the cause of much joy. PHR’s DRC Coordinator, Caroline Dauber, describes his homecoming.
It has been less than two weeks since our return from Bukavu, DRC, and now Dr. Denis Mukwege and his family have been the targets of armed violence while defending the rights of victims of sexual violence in the region.
I entered the Congo for the first time via the border that separates it from Burundi. We had taken a paved road to the border crossing in Burundi. The asphalt turned to dust, and then we were on the Congo side.
What would you do if your child was kidnapped, held in a secret location, and defiled? For one father, it led him to give up everything he has spent his life working for, including his job, in the pursuit of justice for his daughter.What would you do if your child was kidnapped, held in a secret location, and defiled? For one father, it led him to give up everything he has spent his life working for, including his job, in the pursuit of justice for his daughter.
Today, in honor of International Women’s Day, PHR reaffirms our commitment to comprehensive justice for survivors of sexual violence and support for those working on the front lines to help them. Through our Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, we strive to improve women’s health, ensure greater access to justice for women, and give women an increased voice.