Posted by: africanpressorganization | 22 October 2014

Celebrating Dr Mukwege as 2014 Sakharov Prize Winner


Celebrating Dr Mukwege as 2014 Sakharov Prize Winner


BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, October 22, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — I was very pleased to learn that the European Parliament has awarded Europe’s top human rights prize to Denis Mukwege for his work helping victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Dr Mukwege founded a hospital for rape victims and is a fierce advocate for women rights. Despite an attempted assassination on him a few years ago, he has returned to the DRC and continues working in his hospital, treating victims of sexual violence and those who have sustained serious injuries.


I have met Dr Mukwege on several occasions and also visited him at the Panzi hospital in Eastern DRC. I admire his dedication and readiness to take personal risks to pursue his vocation and continue advocating for change in his country.

Violence against women is a terrible crime and I strongly support actions that can protect women from the hands of aggressors. The EU supports numerous programmes to help the victims of sexual violence (incl. the Panzi Hospital) and we try to prevent these terrible crimes from happening. However the most successful change needs to come from within the country. That’s why people like Dr Mukwege should be encouraged and strongly supported in their daily fight to change the fate of the Congolese women.

To achieve this, the judiciary system has to be strengthened but education and culture also has an important role to play. We need to tackle all these factors simultaneously and that’s why in March, I announced a new EU support programme worth €20 million to tackle gender-based violence in the DRC. The programme will focus on the causes of gender-based violence in the city-province of Kinshasa and the provinces of Bandundu and Maniema by supporting behavioural change, empowering women and improving protection.

I hope that Dr Mukwege and many others will see winning the Sakharov Prize as an encouragement to continue the fight to make the DRC a safe place for women.



European Commission


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