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Denis Mukwege’s 20-year stand against sexual Abuse in DRC

His work has occasionally led him to get threats.

I talked to him by the Democratic Republic of Congo and started by asking him exactly what effect the Covid-19 outbreak had had on the job of their Bukavu-based Panzi Hospital along with also the Panzi Foundation in providing social and medical services to women victim of sexual abuse.

Dr. Mukwege started by outlining the job of this hospital to put his answer in context:

“The hospital doesn’t just offer medical treatment for victims of sexual abuse, but also that which we call holistic therapy, which is composed of four columns: a medical column, a mental column, a legal column along with a socioeconomic pillar.

“And it’s this last column which has suffered greatly through the Covid-19 pandemic because there was a slump in economic activity.

“So all those girls who have been residing with limited resources concerning their income-generating actions, now we find them coming back to inquire to get new service to have the ability to restart their companies.

“When girls aren’t economically self-supporting when they are quite bad, they also become more vulnerable to sexual abuse”

I asked him whether that had intended any modifications from the instances that had been coming at the hospital:

“At the clinic, we detected an increase in the number of rapes of children. And perhaps this may be explained by the simple fact that the kids don’t go to college right now. The parents are more worried about finding ways to care for and feed them that the kids are abandoned to themselves and they’re more vulnerable to rape.

“It is correct that the number of children treated in this age of the pandemic was greater than normal.”

“There were countless girls who had been raped in 1 night, there were systematic rapes. We saw kids, infants, older people, even guys who were mistreated.

“Nowadays the perpetrators of those offenses are well known – and they go unpunished. All these perpetrators are nationals in addition to foreigners because, now that I’m talking to you, you will find overseas armed groups that continue to perpetrate crimes in the DRC.

“We’ve tried everything, we’ve tried force, we’ve tried negotiation, we’ve attempted peace arrangements, but it has not worked.

“I think the only element which hasn’t yet been utilized is justice.

“Along with the aim for us is that not only do people need to understand the fact, but they also have to have the ability to say’never again’.”

International Survivors Fund

One year ago, Dr. Mukwege produced an International Survivors Fund to help reparation jobs for survivors of sexual violence.

“For the good care of victims of sexual abuse, particularly in the health and psychosocial area, we’ve got the constant support of the European Union. Along with the aim of this Global Fund will be to encourage reparation jobs from the nations, since we feel that when women have the guts to go to court, to have the ability to submit a complaint, they shouldn’t be discouraged because after no reparation was made.

“I feel that, if girls have had the guts to overcome their distress and to submit a complaint, it’s our responsibility and the obligation of humanity to assist them to go all of the ways.

“And also to go all of the ways would be to help them cure.

New EU-AU venture

The European Union along with also the African Union plan to start a new venture in 2021. I asked Dr. Mukwege exactly what the priorities for actions in countries most affected by conflict and humanitarian disasters like Congo ought to be:

“Development collaboration on issues of shared political attraction between Europe and Africa, wider cooperation on migration issues, climate change, peace, and safety are important goals.

“I think the biggest problem now is execution; it is the execution strategy that endures.

“If we do not work for security and peace in Africa, what occurs? Young folks don’t have hope, young men and women are inclined to spend the route of migration including all the effects – that for Africa is that the reduction of brainpower, but also in Europe, migration contributes to the growth of extremists, which isn’t a fantastic thing.

“But between the two there’s all that occurs in the Mediterranean Sea where heaps of young Africans die, that isn’t humanity’s greatest moment.

I asked him exactly what he hoped his job would continue to attract:

“We expect to have the ability to continue to perform our job of encouraging accompanying girls, but later on we must get rid of rape.

“For us, putting an end to this violence against women is the pinnacle of our job, because we expect to see 1-day Congolese girls being able to head out to the farm, to bring water or firewood and also to return without any fear of being raped.