Date
19 August 2017
Denis Mukwege set up the Panzi Hospital in 1999 to treat women who have sustained serious injuries from sexual violence. Photo: Roger Svanell/Pulitzer Center
Denis Mukwege set up the Panzi Hospital in 1999 to treat women who have sustained serious injuries from sexual violence. Photo: Roger Svanell/Pulitzer Center

Congolose doctor wins Europe’s top human rights award

A doctor from the Democratic Republic of Congo has won Europe’s top human rights award for helping thousands of gang rape victims in the country.

Denis Mukwege was announced this year’s winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament in Strasbourg, BBC News reported.

The 59-year-old gynecologist set up the Panzi Hospital in eastern Congo in 1999 to treat women who have sustained serious injuries from sexual violence.

In 2012 Mukwege survived an assassination attempt after condemning the continued use of sexual violence by forces fighting to control the country’s vast mineral wealth, the report said. 

“The war in the Democratic Republic of Congo might be officially over, but the armed conflict still continues in the eastern part of the country and so do attacks against civilians, including gang rapes,” the parliament said in a statement.

“Despite traveling regularly abroad to advocate women’s rights and managing Panzi Hospital, Mukwege continues to see patients and perform surgery two days a week.” 

He will receive the prize of 50,000 euros (US$63,600) during a plenary session of the parliament on Nov. 26.

Ukraine protest group Euromaidan and Azerbaijani activist Leyla Yunus came second and third respectively, the report said.

The Sakharov Prize, named after famous Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, is awarded each year for the promotion of human rights and democracy around the world.

Last year, it was awarded to Pakistani child education activist Malala Yousafzai. Previous winners included Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi.

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