Denis Mukwege and his staff have treated more than 30,000 women, most of them survivors of sexual assaults, since he opened the Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1999.
Courtesy of the King Baudouin Foundation
A woman arrived at the Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) a few years ago weighing just under 62 pounds. Armed militants had murdered three of her eight children and her husband. The gunmen had repeatedly raped the woman, who as a result had become incontinent and infected with HIV.
For Denis Mukwege, Panzi’s founder and a savior to thousands of Congolese rape victims, the woman’s situation was hauntingly familiar. Dr. Mukwege is a renowned gynecologist who specializes in repairing the internal organs of women maimed by sexual violence.
“Everyday I operate on 10 women,” says Mukwege. “And there are hundreds more who are waiting.”
Mukwege and his staff at Panzi have treated more than 30,000 women, most of them survivors of sexual assault, since he opened the hospital in 1999. Since then, a vicious war that has displaced and killed millions of Congolese has officially ended – yet, every day, Mukwege meets more women with lives and bodies ravaged by violence.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is a central African nation with about a fourth the land area of the United States and a population of some 71 million. Armed insurrections and civil wars that began in the mid-1990s have devastated the country – particularly its eastern half, which borders Rwanda.
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