Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecological surgeon who is the co-winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, has risked his life to end the use of mass rape and works in one of the most volatile areas of the world.
Mukwege, 63, runs a hospital in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo and has treated more than 30,000 rape victims. He became an expert in the treatment of serious sexual injuries, many of which occurred during wartime.
Mukwege was born in what was then known as the Belgian Congo. He graduated from medical school in Burundi and worked as a pediatrician in a rural hospital near Bukavu. When he observed many women suffering pain and complications after birth, Mukwege traveled to France to study gynecology and obstetrics at the University of Anger.
Over the years, Mukwege has campaigned to show the abuses suffered by Congolese women. In 2012, he escaped an assassination attempt when he was confronted by four people brandishing AK-47s and one with a pistol.
“I can’t really tell you how I survived,” Mukwege told the BBC in 2013.
Seeing the atrocities visited on women during wartime affected the doctor.
“I started to ask myself what was going on, Mukwege told the BBC. “These weren't just violent acts of war, but part of a strategy. You had situations where multiple people were raped at the same time, publicly -- a whole village might be raped during the night. In doing this, they hurt not just the victims but the whole community, which they force to watch.”
“After what has happened to me, I have a new understanding,” Mukwege wrote in The New York Times in 2012. “I have seen what has been done to them. I have heard them tell me that armed attackers raped them and killed their husband, raped them and killed their children.”