Dr. Denis Mukwege is a surgeon, gynecologist and women’s rights activist. He founded the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu in 1999 as a clinic for gynaecological and obstetric care, and expected to be working on issues of maternal health. Since 1999, however, Dr. Mukwege and his staff have helped to care for more than 40,000 survivors of sexual violence, which has made him the world’s leading expert on ‘repairing’ the internal physical damage caused by (gang) rape. The hospital not only treats survivors with physical wounds, but also provides legal, psycho-social services and socio-economic support to its patients, a one-stop hospital providing holistic medical care to survivors of rape and other patients in need of medical care in the region.
In October 2012, Dr. Denis Mukwege was violently attacked and his family was held at gunpoint at his home in an assassination attempt. Joseph Bizimana, his trusted friend and security guard, was killed. The attack came several weeks after Dr. Mukwege denounced the country’s 16-year-long conflict and called for those responsible to be brought to justice during a speech at the United Nations. Dr. Mukwege and his family fled to Europe for a short period of time. Despite the assassination attempt, in January 2013, Dr. Mukwege responded to the urgent call from the women in Bukavu to return home and resumed his work at the hospital.
Dr. Denis Mukwege campaigns globally to bring the use of rape as a weapon of war to an end. He advocates fiercely for the rights of survivors of sexual violence, to hold perpetrators to account and to raise awareness on the so-called ‘conflict minerals’ in fueling conflict and sexual violence. Dr. Mukwege has earned many distinctions for his work. He is also on the advisory committee for the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict and UNHCR’s Advisory Board on Gender and Protection.