Dr Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist who has spent many years helping women that were raped was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2018. He will shares the price with Nadia Murad, the Iraqui Yazidi human rights activist that was tortured and raped by Islamic State militants.

Dr Denis Mukwege in his office in Panzi. Photo Credit: PINAULT/VOA

The announcement was made in a press release by the Nobel Prize Organization. “The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2018 to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict,” the statement read.

Dr Denis Mukwege was born in 1955 in Bakavu, he went to medical school in neighboring country Burundi and later studied Gynecology and Obstetrics at the University of Angers in France where he graduated in 1989. He was inspired to become a doctor by numerous visits to see the sick with his preacher father.

He first came to public 20 years ago when he set up the Panzi hospital in Bukavu, a city in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo. This came after he treated a woman who had been raped and mutilated by armed men.

According to an interview he granted BBC, he said the woman was not only raped but bullets had been fired into her genitals and thighs.

Dr Mukwege started the hospital made from tents in 1998 with a maternity and an operating theater but it was destroyed and he had to build again in 1999. Now the hospital has grown to become a major health facility in eastern DR Congo. According to its website, the hospital has 370 doctors, nurses and support staff. The hospital now serves over 3500 women a year and Dr Mukwege does as many as 10 operations a day.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2018 winnner, Dr Mukwege says the conflict in the DR Congo is to be blamed for the increase in rape cases. “I’m sorry to say that three years ago the situation was better but now many armed groups are growing again and the number of women who are raped is increasing again,” he said.

Dr Mukwege criticized the Kabila government and other countries in a speech at the UN in September 2012 for not doing very little to stop what he said was “an unjust was that has used violence against women and rape as a strategy of war.” After his statement, the next day, gunmen broke into his home and took his daughters hostage for a brief period.

He later on fled with his family to Sweden and then Belgium for their safety. But in 2013 he returned home following calls from local women who raised funds for his return ticket. “After that gesture, I couldn’t really say no”, he said. He now lives under the permanent protection of UN peace keepers at his hospital.

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The news of his award came when he was in the theater carrying out operation. He has dedicated the prize to all women who have been victims of sexual violence. Apart from Nobel Peace Prize 2018 he has won several awards including the 2008 UN Human Rights Prize and African of the Year Award in 2009.

Source(s): BBC News | Featured Image Credit: Claude Truong-Ngoc