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Congolese gynecologist awarded prize for his works with victims of sexual violence

posted 25 May 2011, 10:45 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 25 May 2011, 10:48 ]

Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege receives an award worth 150,000 euros for providing medical care and support to women victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Doctor Denis Mukwege received on Tuesday (May 24) the King Baudoin International Development Prize 2010-2011 for his work in support to women victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The prize, worth 150,000 euros, rewards "positive examples of development".

Mukwege is the director of the Panzi hospital, which specializes in helping rape victims. The hospital was established in 1999 in Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu. It offers comprehensive care to the patients, combining treatments of the physical and emotional injuries with socioeconomic rehabilitation, the King Baudoin foundation said.

More than one hundred and sixty women are raped each month in North and South Kivu, according to UN figures.

Mukwege said women arriving at the hospital are the victims of savage attacks.

"All the victims have been raped with unbelievable brutality. Those who manage to survive reach the hospital in a state of incredible physical and psychological destruction. Often they arrive with the genital system destroyed by bullets or sharp objects, an act of savagery unheard before in the history of the region," Mukwege told the audience.

After being raped, Mukwege said women are often ostracized from their communities. Their children may be HIV positive, adding to their plight.

Mukwege seized the opportunity to launch an appeal to the international community and countries neighbouring his country. He said nothing will be solved in the region if geopolitical problems are not solved.

"As long as there is no definitive solution to the Rwandan Liberation forces FDLR, to the Lord Resistance Army LRA from Uganda, to the Liberation Front of Burundi, all based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and to the Mai Mai from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Great Lakes region will be dangerous and our mothers, daughters and spouses will never be left in peace," Mukwege said.

Several armed groups operate in eastern Congo since a 1998-2003 war that killed five million people in the central African state, and sexual violence has become common.

Mukwege said statistics show a decrease in rapes and some improvements in jailing the culprits. But much more remained to be done, he said.

"Dear Congolese sisters, spouses and mothers, despite of being the victims of unfair and barbaric tortures, stay strong!"

Mukwege dedicated the prize to the women victims of sexual violence in DRC.