Doctor and rights activist honoured
A doctor who risked his life to campaign against sexual violence as a weapon of war has been honoured by the University.
Dr Denis Mukwege is a Congolese gynaecologist who has treated thousands of survivors of sexual violence.
The world-renowned doctor, humanitarian and activist received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Medicine at a ceremony in McEwan Hall.
Dr Mukwege founded the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 1999. He expected to be working mainly on issues of maternal heath, but found many patients were victims of extreme sexual violence.
The hospital has grown into an international foundation that cares for rape survivors – physically and psychologically – and helps them to gain independence. Patients who cannot afford medical care are treated without charge
Since Panzi Hospital opened, Dr Mukwege and his staff have helped to care for more than 50,000 survivors of sexual violence.
In 2012, Dr Mukwege made a speech at the United Nations denouncing the horror of rape as a weapon in the Congo’s decade-long conflict. He called for those responsible to be brought to justice.
Weeks later, he was violently attacked and his family was held at gunpoint at his home in an assassination attempt. Joseph Bizimana, his friend and security guard, was killed.
Despite continuous threats against him, he returned to Eastern Congo in January 2013 and resumed his work at the hospital. He has since become a global advocate for gender equality and the elimination of rape as a weapon of war.
He has received numerous international awards for his work. These include the UN Human Rights Prize, the Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament, the Olof Palme Prize and the Clinton Global Citizen Award.
TIME magazine listed him among the world's 100 most influential persons and the Carter Foundation named him a ‘citizen of the world’.
In 2015, Dr Mukwege was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws by Harvard University.
Dr Mukwege has been fearless in his efforts to increase protections for women and to advocate that those responsible for sexual violence be brought to justice. It is a privilege to be able to honour him for his bravery, compassion and unceasing work to heal survivors.