With a warm introduction from June Sarpong OBE, Director of Creative Diversity at the BBC, the audience welcomed a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate to the stage. Dr. Denis Mukwege, Founder of the Panzi Hospital and Foundation, has dedicated his life and career to helping the victims of sexual violence. For decades, rape has been used as a weapon of war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Since 1999, Dr. Mukwege has helped women and girls to heal and recover their agency.
Dr. Mukwege explained that treating the physical injuries is not sufficient when rape is used in this exceptionally violent way. Physical treatment must be paired with psychological and socio-economic support. He also noted that his team helps women pursue legal justice, helping them recover more fully. For his efforts, he was targeted with threats of kidnapping and death and was forced to flee his nation until the women he had helped raised the funds for his plane ticket home.
Dr. Mukwege ended the session by explaining that women have shaped his life so he felt an obligation to do what he could to contribute to safety and justice. Women do not only live for themselves, but for the future, family, and community. Sarpong reminded the audience that donating to Panzi Hospital will have a tangible effect on women and communities in the DRC.
“Women are coming back to us and the question is why [did] it happen to me.”
Dr. Denis Mukwege, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Founder, Panzi Hospital and Foundation
“The situation in the Congo is still ongoing and in a way it has been overlooked by the global community.”
June Sarpong OBE, Director of Creative Diversity, BBC