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"Rape used to terrorise population"

report by DRC gynaecologist Denis Mukwege

Denis Mukwege

Denis Mukwege CNN

British paper The Guardian reports about abuse against 100 women only last week in North Kivu, the war-torn region of Congo where Denis Mukwege carries out his relentless work of caring about victims. 

Denis Mukwege has run the local hospital for the recent 18 years. Militants once even kidnapped his daughters to put pressure on him, but he has kept on treating the women in an area typically lacking healthcare. 

Mukwege is an expert in reconstructive surgery for rape victims and has saved 40,000 women so far. The women were raped by soldiers and militias who have fought there since the outbreak of the second Congo war in 1998. 

This year on 8 March, the UN commemorated 20 years since the Beijing Declaration, broadly deemed to be a very progressive blueprint for advancing women's rights in the world. However most states fail to comply with the commitments for gender equality they had subscribed to back in 1995. 

In Congo in particular it is almost unthinkable to report rape. They do not only suffer from social stigmatisation, but going to a police station could put them at greater danger. 

"Mukwege", says the Guardian, "insists that domestic laws are present, they are simply not used. Many of the perpetrators occupy high-ranking positions in the government and armed forces". He also believes that another key factor is ignorance joint to desensitisation. "The concept of equality", he says, "begins in children's minds with the very first contact. We usually tell girls to dress a certain way and instill fear in them that if they don't, they might be attacked. But we don't tell boys about how to behave and consequences of bad behavior". 

"Along with psycho-social support for victims of rape", goes on the article, "Mukwege advocates help for those men who have left the armed forces, helping to reintegrate them into their communities. He has organised groups where men and boys discuss the violence that has pervaded their societies, while women gather to demand justice and reparations. If you destroy wombs, he says, there will be no children and no future".  

22 May 2015

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