In the Democratic Republic of Congo, they call him “Doctor Miracle” for his surgical skill and dedication in helping women overcome the injuries and trauma of sexual abuse and rape.
Denis Mukwege is a crusading gynaecologist who has spent more than two decades treating appalling injuries inflicted on women in DRC.
He has also emerged as an excoriating critic of President Joseph Kabila, set to be replaced in the pivotal December 23 elections.
He set up the Panzi hospital in 2015 in his war-weary native province of South Kivu, part of an eastern region riven by a conflict involving government forces and various rebel groups.
“A man ceases to be a man when he does not know how to give love and when he no longer knows how to give hope to others,” Mukwege told his staff in 2015.
A father of five, the tireless 63-year-old is an outspoken critic of the abuse of women in war and has repeatedly accused the world of failing to act.
The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize co-winner had been repeatedly nominated for his work with gang rape victims from the conflicts that have ravaged his homeland. His work was the subject of an acclaimed 2015 film titled: “The Man Who Mends Women.”
“Denis Mukwege is the foremost, most unifying symbol, both nationally and internationally, of the struggle to end sexual violence in war and armed conflicts,” Nobel committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said when the award was announced in October.
“His basic principle is that ‘justice is everyone’s business’.”
Mukwege has dedicated the prize to women victims of conflict and violence around the world.
“For nearly 20 years I have witnessed war crimes committed against women, young girls, tots and babies,” Mukwege said, adding that he had operated on some 50 000 women victims of rape and sexual abuse.