For Immediate Release, October 8, 2013
Contact: Barbara Becker, EqualShot, 917-727-1094
Dr. Denis Mukwege Wins 2013 Civil Courage Prize
Honored for work as a physician and advocate for women survivors of wartime violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
New York, NY — Dr. Denis Mukwege, internationally-known for his heroic work to treat survivors of rape in the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and to publicly denounce sexual violence as a weapon of war, will receive the 14th annual Civil Courage Prize in New York City on October 15. The Train Foundation has awarded the prize of $50,000 since 2000.
Bill Keller, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former executive editor of The New York Times, will deliver the keynote address.
Dr. Mukwege founded Panzi Hospital in Bukavu in 1998, originally as a clinic for gynecological and obstetric care. Since its inception, however, Dr. Mukwege and his colleagues have treated about 40,000 women and girls victimized in brutal sexual attacks, often at the hands of soldiers and armed rebels. In addition to medical care, the center provides legal, social and psychological services.
Congo's eastern provinces have been plagued by conflict for more than two decades, and rape has become endemic. Dr. Mukwege says, "This will be the destruction of the Congolese people. If you destroy enough wombs, there will be no children. So then you come right in and take the minerals." Eastern DRC is particularly rich in coltan, an essential metallic ore used in mobile phones, laptops and other electronics.
In September 2012 Dr. Mukwege spoke publicly at the United Nations in New York of the need to prosecute the crime of mass rape and rape as a tool of war and terror. In October 2012, he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt at his home in Bukavu, which resulted in the shooting death of his bodyguard. Dr. Mukwege and his family were forced to flee to Europe. In January 2013, he returned to the DRC to continue his work.
“When men and women fighting for justice are censured for speaking out, it is incumbent upon the international community to stand by their side,” says John Train, Chairman of the Train Foundation. "We are proud to honor Dr. Mukwege for his demonstration of 'civil courage.'"
Dr. Mukwege lives and works at Panzi Hospital, seeing twenty patients per day and performing surgery two days a week. The hospital employs 398 and has an annual budget of US $3.2 million. Patients who cannot afford care are treated without charge. In September, Dr. Mukwege was awarded the prestigious Right Livelihood Award for healing women survivors of sexual violence and speaking up about its root causes.
The 2013 Civil Courage Prize Award Ceremony will be held at the Harold Pratt House, 58 E. 68th St. in New York City, on Tuesday, October 15 6:30 pm (reception); 7:00pm (ceremony).
To attend the event as a member of the media or to speak with Civil Courage Prize Trustees or Dr. Mukwege, please contact Barbara Becker.
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