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.
It was as if someone extraordinarily famous had come to town. Thousands of people craned their necks as the motorcade roared by, cellphones out to grab a snap, an air of expectation and excitement eclipsing all the street noise of clanging Coke bottles and beeping motorcycles. “There he is!” someone yelled. “Le docteur!”
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.
Susannah Sirkin, Deputy Director at Physicians for Human Rights, blogs about the physical and psychological effects from sexual violence in conflict.