Today’s jubilant return by Dr. Denis Mukwege to the Democratic Republic of the Congo nearly 12 weeks after an assassination attempt at his home in Bukavu has given Congolese leaders and citizens the opportunity to show their support for this courageous and beloved advocate for victims of sexual violence.
Despite continued grave concerns for his safety, PHR supports Dr. Denis Mukwege in his return to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. As he resumes his work treating victims of sexual violence, PHR urges the relevant authorities to secure the safety of this internationally renowned surgeon and human rights champion.
But there is consensus that it is time to end impunity for sexual violence. How to do this is the challenge. There are many answers to this question, and it may include better monitoring and protection of the vulnerable in society, civic education amongst others. But paramount among these is strengthening the prosecution of sexual violence cases.
PHR's Susannah Sirkin writes on CNN Opinion: "Some of the bravest people I know are cowering today in eastern Congo, wondering where their supporters are. While our daily news zeroes in on Syria and Gaza, the fiscal cliff and Christmas sales, our friends in the war-ravaged part of the immense, mineral-rich Democratic Republic of the Congo are once again convulsed in a conflict they did not choose."
PHR’s close ally Dr. Denis Mukwege recently survived a near-fatal attack at his home in Eastern Congo in the lead-up to the extraordinary violence that has engulfed the region. Dr. Mukwege is renowned for his work treating victims of sexual violence. PHR’s Susannah Sirkin told The Lancet, “The biggest impact is Mukwege's voice and any attempt to silence his voice is harmful to past and future victims.” PHR is now calling on the Congolese government to fully investigate the attack.