2018 Nobel Peace Prize Goes to Christian Congolese Doctor Who Helps Rape Victims
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has selected two recipients for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, including Christian gynecologist Denis Mukwege, who has dedicated his life to caring for victims of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Mukwege, nicknamed “Dr. Miracle” for his specialized procedures, received the award alongside Nadia Murad, a young Yazidi activist who survived being kidnapped and raped by ISIS members in Iraq.
The Nobel committee selected these two recipients saying that both winners modeled “efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.”
The Nobel Peace Prize winner said that his Christian faith was a massive influence on his decision to pursue medicine and his strategy for patient care. The son of a Pentecostal minister, Mukwege told NPR that he was inspired to become a doctor after traveling with his father to pray for the sick. Mukwege attended the University of Angers in France to study gynecology and obstetrics.
Over the past 20 years, Mukwege has treated tens of thousands of women in his Panzi Hospital in Bukavu which he founded in 1999 with the help of the Pentecostal Churches in Central Africa (CEPAC).
The hospital provides care for women, many of whom have been gang raped by militants.
Mukwege told NPR that he works “not only to treat women—their body, [but] also to fight for their own right, to bring them to be autonomous, and, of course, to support them psychologically. And all of this is a process of healing so women can regain their dignity.”
During a keynote speech last year at the Lutheran World Federation, Mukwege challenged the audience saying if Christians do not live their lives faithfully among their communities and neighbors, “we cannot fulfill the mission entrusted to us by Christ,” a mission he has spent his career trying to fulfill.
Mukwege, 63, has been met with great support from Christian organizations in his fight against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the DRC.
“Dr. Mukwege’s incredible work with survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo inspires me, and many of us,” Rick Santos, president of IMA World Health, said in a statement on Friday. “We are honored to call him and Panzi Hospital a partner in the effort to eradicate SGBV in a place where it is so pervasive.”
Christianity Today reports that 3.9 million people have been killed and more than 40,000 have been raped in the decade since the civil war broke out in the DRC in 1996.
The Globe and Mail has said of Mukwege that he is “likely the world’s leading expert on repairing injuries of rape.”
Panzi hospital also offers services beyond surgery and injury repair. The institution also offers therapy, legal assistance, community resources, and help reintegrating into the community for their patients.
Mukwege encourages other Christians to be a light in the ever darkening world and to consider “the credibility of the gospel in the 21st century, to liberate the grace that we have received by making the church a light that still shines in this world of darkness through our struggles for justice, truth, law, freedom, in short, the dignity of man and woman.”
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Win McNamee/Staff