Denis Mukwege, the Congolese physician who treats women and children rape victims, shared a prayer to God at the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.
Mukwege received the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Nadia Murad, an activist and survivor of rape and torture at the hands of the Islamic State terror group. He recalled several horrifying incidents over the years at his Panzi hospital in Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, at his acceptance speech on Monday in Oslo, Norway.
His very first patient in 1999 was an 18-month-old old rape victim who had been shot in her genitals.
“She was bleeding profusely and was immediately taken to the operating room. When I arrived, all the nurses were sobbing. The baby’s bladder, genitals and rectum were severely injured by the penetration of an adult,” Mukwege, known as "Doctor Miracle" for his reconstructive surgeries, detailed.
“We prayed in silence: ‘My God, tell us what we are seeing isn’t true. Tell us it’s a bad dream. Tell us when we wake up, everything will be alright.’ But it was not a bad dream. It was the reality. It has become our new reality in the DRC.”
Panzi hospital has continued operating for nearly 20 years now, caring for more than 3,500 women a year.
“What happened in Kavumu and what is still going on in many other places in Congo, such as the rapes and massacres in Béni and Kasaï, was made possible by the absence of the rule of law, the collapse of traditional values and the reign of impunity, particularly for those in power,” the Christian obstetrician-gynaecologist said in his speech, as he shared of other cases of raped and mutilated children.
“Rape, massacres, torture, widespread insecurity and a flagrant lack of education create a spiral of unprecedented violence,” he stated.
“The human cost of this perverted, organized chaos has been hundreds of thousands of women raped, over 4 million people displaced within the country and the loss of 6 million human lives. Imagine, the equivalent of the entire population of Denmark decimated.”
Mukwege, who said that he accepts the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the Congolese people, urged world leaders watching the ceremony to join in efforts to “put an end to this suffering that shames our common humanity.”
“Taking action is a choice. It is a choice: whether or not we stop violence against women, whether or not we create a positive masculinity which promotes gender equality, in times of peace and in times of war,” he declared.
“If there is a war to be waged, it is the war against the indifference which is eating away at our societies.”
In her speech, Murad shared on Monday about the terrors she and those of the Yazidi community, including Christians and other minorities, have suffered at the hands of IS in Iraq and Syria.
“I want to talk to you from the bottom of my heart and to share with you how the course of my life and the life of the entire Yazidi community have changed because of this genocide, and how ISIS tried to eradicate one of the components of Iraq by taking women into captivity, killing men and destroying our pilgrimage sites and houses of worship,” the activist said.
“Today is a special day for me. It is the day when good has triumphed over evil, the day when humanity defeated terrorism, the day that the children and women who have suffered persecution have triumphed over the perpetrators of these crimes,” she stated.
“I hope that today marks the beginning of a new era — when peace is the priority, and the world can collectively begin to define a new roadmap to protect women, children and minorities from persecution, in particular victims of sexual violence.”