Seoul Peace Prize

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Dr. Denis Mukwege founded Panzi Hospital in 1999 and has treated 48,482 women and female children, who had been victims of mass rape throughout the civil wars in DR Congo, until 2015, helping them overcome the sexual trauma they had experienced so that they may return to living a healthy normal life. In doing so, Dr. Denis Mukwege has greatly contributed to not only the improvement of women and children's human rights, but also to the human development of mankind.

Dr. Denis Mukwege believed that medical treatment alone could not resolve the sexual violence resulting from war and strived to bring an end to the wars in DR Congo, through his speech at the UN and interviews with the press, informing the world of the horrific gang rapes taking place in DR Congo.

Dr. Denis Mukwege studied at France to become a gynecologist, inspired by his father who dedicated himself to look after the ill and the weak as a church minister.

Dr. Denis Mukwege founded the Panzi Hospital in 1999 to counter the spiking rate of death of pregnant women in DR Congo during the civil wars, performing caesarean operation and other gynecological surgeries and treatments to decrease the death of women.

But his first patient wasn't a pregnant woman, but a cruelly raped female with serious injuries to her body and genitals. There was mass sexual violence against women and female children occurring throughout the civil wars in DR Congo. Dr. Denis Mukwege and his colleagues at Panzi Hospital gathered all manpower and resources to treat rape victims. They also helped women and young girls who required gynecological assistance such as in premature birth due to malnutrition.

Dr. Denis Mukwege treated over 20 patients every day, among which 7 to 10 patients were rape victims suffering from trauma or sexually transmitted disease. Panzi Hospital was not a hospital for rape victims, but a general hospital for regular patients that include gynecology. But among wards and rooms that could accomodate up to 450 patients within this hospital in 2015, wards and rooms that could accommodate up to 250 patients were set aside specifically for rape victims.

About 40 to 60% of rape victims treated at Panzi Hospital were unable to return to their homes. First, there were husbands or families that refused to have them back for having been raped by other men. Second, there were rape victims who have had their husbands and families slaughtered during the civil wars. Third, most of their homes and villages had been wiped out and destroyed by rebel forces and those regions remained dangerous due to rebel activities. Lastly, there were rape victims carrying serious sexual transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, contracted through mass rape during the war, who were no longer able to live an independent life.

Most of the patients that cannot go back to their homes look for a way to get a place nearby the hospital. However, most of them don't even have the money to school their children, much less the means to earn money for a residence. As a result, their children end up exposed to the same risk of violence, giving way to a vicious circle of tragedy.

Dr. Denis Mukwege doesn't only treat their physical wounds. He and Panzi Hospital aids them by providing general support. They help them with their physical and emotional recovery, aid them in their efforts to return to their local community and also provide legal assistance. The 「Maison Dorcas」 is a representative program of said support.

Panzi Hospital's 「Maison Dorcas」 program provides women and young girls who are unable to return to their homes with a small room to live in the form of a dormitory. Food is provided for them and they can participate in every rehabilitation program. 「Maison Dorcas」 offers treatment consultation, job training and lessons in writing, reading and basic math. It also provides a loan service of small sums for those that need it. 「Maison Dorcas」 takes in up to 180 people and they generally stay for about 3 months. Families of these women and girls are also allowed to stay with them so that they may just focus on treatment without worrying about them. This allows them a faster recovery and return to their ordinary life as a member of their local community. The ultimate goal of the 「Maison Dorcas」 program is to heal and restore not just individual women and girls who were victims of rape, but their families and local communities as well. It employs various methods and means to bring about peace to all communities and regions.

On the 25th of September, 2012, gave a speech at the United Nations where he condemned impunity for mass rape by rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and asked for the unanimous decision of the UN to take decisive action against any of its member states aiding or supporting these crimes against humanity in any way or form. He implored for the world society to stand and take action against these crimes stating that those who are responsible for these crimes must be brought to face justice.

Dr. Mukwege survived an attempted assassination against him and his family for demanding the punishment of rebel forces and an end to the civil wars in DR Congo. The assassination attempt took place on October 25, 2012, one month after he had given his speech at the UN. Four armed men attacked his residence while he was not home, held his daughters hostage, and waited for his return to assassinate him. Upon his return, Dr. Mukwege's guard intervened, rescuing Dr. Mukwege and his daughters, but was shot dead by the assassins. The local police announced that they had arrested these assailants, but no trial took place and no witness was called to testify. After the assassination attempt, Dr. Mukwege went into exile in Europe for the safety of his wife and his two daughters.

Local women's organizations criticized the police after he went into exile in Europe and began raising funds for his return. Dr. Mukwege had gone to Europe due to threats on his life. But upon hearing of the devastating situation at Panzi Hospital on its daily operations, which was overflowing with patients requiring surgery and treatment, he decided to return to DR Congo.

The efforts of many have returned him to DR Congo, especially that of his patients, who had raised funds to pay for his return ticket by selling pineapples and onions. Women's organizations also offered a team of 20 bodyguards who would take shifts protecting him everyday until midnight.

He returned to DR Congo, on January 14, 2013, where the population reserved him a warm welcome over the 20 miles (30km) from Kavumu Airport. And shifts of two bodyguards protect him day and night.

For the last 20 years, Dr. Mukwege fought to put a stop to Congolese Civil Wars, criticizing the use of violence against women and rape as a strategy of war by soldiers and armed rebels in the eastern region of DR Congo, which was unethical and inhumane. He believed that ending the civil wars was the solution to stopping these tragedies and traveled around the world to implore to the global community to help bring an end to these unjust wars.

Dr. Mukwege claimed that the civil wars in DR Congo were not tribal conflicts, but regional armed conflicts to gain hold of mining resource. DR Congo possesses huge mineral resources, especially in the region of Kivu, where great reserves of coltan, also referred to as 'blue gold' as it is a key material used for making cell phones and laptops, are found. Armed conflicts continue on to gain control over this region and Dr. Mukwege believes that these conflicts won't end without changes on political fronts.

Dr. Mukwege states the need to organize a specialized police force and military to protect the people of DR Congo and to drive out armed rebels. He also believes that DR Congo may fall into chaos if the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces leave before the organization of said police and military force.

Dr. Mukwege stands against any form of war and devotes himself to stopping conflicts in order to bring peace in the region despite threats on his life. He also demands that those responsible for these war crimes be brought to the International Criminal Court to face justice.