Congolese Human Rights heroes

At the European Parliament’s last plenary session, the visit of Pope Francis has somewhat eclipsed the award ceremony for the Sakharov Prize, which this year was given to Denis Mukwege, a gynaecologist from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who is assisting women who have been the victims of rape. The raping of women is very frequent in that war-torn country, not only as a crime among others, but also as a deliberate war-strategy to terrorize local populations, to chase them from their villages, or to change the ethnic structure of a region.

A gynaecologist? Somebody who “helps women who have been raped”? And who was nominated by the S&D and ALDE groups? Unfortunately, the first thought that comes to mind is that this might be part of a larger scheme of the pro-abortion lobby to frame abortion as something “humanitarian”, or even as a “human right” – first in the specific context of war-related rapes and then, once this is accepted, in wider contexts.

However, having done some superficial research on Dr. Mukwege, we have not found that he is practising abortions (which would be illegal in the DRC, even in cases of rape), nor that he has ever publicly asked for the ban on abortion to be lifted. The fact that spurious NGOs like the “Global Justice Center” use his name in order to pressure for the legalization of abortion in Congo and other African countries or, in the United States, for a repeal of the so-called “Helms Amendment” that prevents the US government from funding illegal abortions abroad, is probably not his fault. Let us thus whole-heartedly congratulate Dr. Mukwege for having been awarded the Prize. There is no reason to believe he doesn’t deserve it.

Nevertheless, we might use this occasion to draw our readers’ attention to another Congolese human rights heroine who might have been an even better choice: Rebecca Masika Katsuva, a survivor of sexual assault and founder of an organisation called Association des Personnes Desheriteés Unies pour le Development (APDUD). This organization provides shelter to women who have been the victims of rape (and who, as a result, are often repudiated by their husbands or their husbands’ families), as well as to the children they may have conceived when being raped. Currently, the center consists of more than 50 houses for women to live in, providing a home for approximately 180 women. In the past decade, she has helped over 6,000 rape survivors.

If you want to read a full account of Mrs. Katsuva’s story, follow this link (but we warn you: it is unspeakably cruel).

Here is also a video:

What we find so impressive about Mrs. Katsuva is not only how she helps other women, but that she is herself a victim of the injustices she is fighting against. A victim who is showing us the best way to peace: forgiveness.