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.
Today, we at Physicians for Human Rights stand in solidarity with our medical colleagues and the people of South Kivu in the aftermath of the chilling and brazen attack against Dr. Denis Mukwege and his household last Thursday.
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.
The American policymaking and civil society community should take inspiration from the Tunisian woman who refused to be a silent victim and the countless others like her, and work together to fight against sexual and gender-based violence, in all its forms.
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.