Sunday, March 10, 2013

Meet The Man Who Specializes in Gang Rape

Act #69:  Demand conflict-free products.

Little Denis was first inspired to become a doctor as a young boy, when he accompanied his father, a Pentecostal pastor, visiting sick community members.  He chose to specialize in gynecology when he began observing women with no access to healthcare suffering complications of childbirth.  In 1998, he founded a hospital for women that became known worldwide for treating the severe gynecological problems of survivors of sexual violence.

Dr. Mukwage has treated rape victims who have had bullets fired into their genitals, chemicals poured into their vaginas.  He has heard of entire villages of women raped in one night and public rapes where villagers are forced to watch.  He began to recognize that these were not isolated incidents of violence, but rather a horrific strategy of war intended to hurt not only the victims but entire communities, who are then forced to abandon their homes and resources out of fear.

The Panzi Hospital has become a haven for treating women who have been gang-raped by rebel forces, and Dr. Mukwege has become the world's leading expert on how to repair the internal physical damage caused by gang rape.  Operating in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with bare medical resources, Dr. Mukwege has invented surgeries that has helped repair the bodies of over 30,000 victims of excruciating rape and torture.  He has treated some women more than once, performing up to 10 surgeries a day and working 18-hour days.

This year, Dr. Denis Mukwege is one of 259 nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize.  As founder and medical director of the Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dr. Mukwege has been a tireless advocate for the rights of women in the DRC.  Last year, Dr. Mukwege publically condemned impunity for mass rape in the DRC, criticizing President Joseph Kabila and the Rwandan government's role in the atrocities. On October 25, 2012, five gunmen held him and his two daughters at gun-point, attempted to kill him in his own home, leaving his body guard dead.  After his attack, Dr. Mukwege and his family fled to Brussels, but returned recently to continue his work.  Today groups of 20 women volunteer in 24-hour shifts to guard him and his family, grateful that he chose to return to stand by them, fueling his determination even more.

As a little boy, Denis followed his father around visiting the sick, today, Dr. Mukwege travels the world, desperately calling attention to the fact that mass rapes have become so common in this part of the world that he had to build a hospital specifically to treat countless victims every day.  The war in the DRC is fueled entirely by greed over rich natural resources and is being waged by destroying the lives of tens of thousands of women.   Hear him.  Be outraged.  Demand it to stop.   How?

1.  Demand conflict-free gold from your jeweler.

2.  Be informed about how your iPad is made. 
     Commit to purchase conflict-free electronics.

3.  Donate to the Panzi Foundation.

4.  Speak up.  Join the U.S. movement.

5.  Buy whistles.
     Buy coffee.

"It is more dangerous to be a woman than a solider," 
~ Pan African Parliament Women's Conference President, Mavis Matladi of South Africa

"I would have liked to say, I have the honor of being part of the international community that you represent here, but I cannot say that. How can I say this to you when the international community has shown fear and a lack of courage during these 16 years in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?"
~ Dr. Denis Mukwege during his speech to the UN, September, 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment