I met today with Dr Denis Mukwege, a doctor from the DR Congo who founded a hospital for rape victims and is a fierce advocate for women. Few weeks back I was shocked to learn he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. Today, his spirits are running high again and he is willing to come back to his patients and to his country.
Violence against women is a terrible crime and I strongly support actions that can save women from hands of aggressors. Today, I paid a tribute to the outstanding work of Dr. Mukwege at Panzi Hospital and his tireless support for victims of sexual violence.
The EU has already condemned the assassination attempt and we trust that this crime will not go unpunished. And I sincerely hope that Dr Mukwege will be able to return safely to his home and to his patients; as he said himself, this is what he wished for.
The EU supports the programmes to help the victims of sexual violence (incl. the Panzi Hospital) and we try to prevent these terrible crimes from happening, but the most successful change can 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.
During our meeting, Dr Mukwege repeatedly insisted on the need to strengthen our support to women. He told me that even in the worst cases he is always impressed by women’s resilience and their capacity to revive. So it is very clear to more that we should continue empowering women at all levels of the society.
For the fight must continue and not only judiciary system has to be strengthened but also education and culture have an important role to play. We want to tackle all these factors at the same time and that’s why I will launch soon an initiative to combat violence against women in the DR Congo. I have foreseen 20 million euro for this purpose.
But for change to happen, the advocates of change within the country need to be protected; they need to feel safe and they need to feel needed. I hope the climate in the DR Congo will improve. On our side, we will do everything we can to help to achieve this.
Read also the blog post of my colleague Commissioner Georgieva after the meeting with Dr Mukwege:Advocates of change – dr. Mukwege and his support for Congolese women,