AFRICA/CONGO DR - The Congolese doctor who helps victims of sexual violence:"rape is a weapon of mass destruction"

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "Rape is a weapon of mass destruction" denounces Denis Mukwege, Congolese doctor, who has been working for years to treat victims of rapes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Dr. Mukwege manages the health center of Panzi, in Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu which together with North Kivu are two of the most unstable areas of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, due to the presence of numerous armed groups that terrorize the population.
"Rapes – explains the doctor – are born from the desire to destroy the woman as the bearer of life. In this sense, they are weapons of mass destruction". In 2007 a report sent to Fides, signed by Fr Justin Nkunzi, Director of the Commission "Justice and Peace" of the Archdiocese of Bukavu, said the same thing (see Fides 29/10/2007). "A woman is considered first of all a mother", recalls the document. "She gives life. That is all which is to be considered sacred in African tradition. (...) In such a context, violence against women is considered a way of inflicting death to an entire community. It is a way to strike at the very heart of the community".
According to Dr. Mukwege, war rapes are weapons used in various conflicts around the world, from the former Yugoslavia to Syria: "I met some Bosnian women and Syrian doctors who told me of similar rapes". For his activities in favor of victims of sexual violence, Dr. Mukwege has been threatened several times to the point that for a period he had to leave Bukavu (see Fides 29/10/2012). (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 17/06/2014)