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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Congolese Doctor Wins Human Rights Prize For His Work Helping Rape Victims

Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege is to be awarded one of Europe's most prestigious human rights prizes, the Sakharov Prize. Mukwege who specializes in the treatment of rape victims is to receive the award today at an award ceremony at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

This follows a unanimous decision by European lawmakers in October to recognize the 59-year-old physician for his tireless work to campaign against sexual violence targeting women in war, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mukwege founded the Panzi Hospital near Bukavu in DRC's South Kivu province in 1998, the same year the Second Congo War began. Since then, he has performed thousands of reconstructive surgeries on women who have been seriously injured in violent sexual attacks. Mukwege, who has been dubbed "Doctor Miracle," says he had "no choice" but to help gang-raped women. "For 15 years I have witnessed mass atrocities committed against women's bodies and I cannot remain with my arms crossed because our common humanity calls on us to care for each other," he said.

The 50,000-euro ($64,200) Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded annually to honor defenders of human rights and freedom of expression. It was established in December 1988 by the European Parliament in honor of the nuclear physicist and Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov. This year's other finalists were Ukraine's pro-Western Euromaidan movement and Azerbaijani rights defender Leyla Yunus. Previous prizewinners include Nobel Peace Prize laureates Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai.

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