Dr. Mukwege with survivors of sexual violence at Panzi Hospital, DRC (Photo by Paula Allen/V-Day)

Ending Sexual Violence in the DRC

On November 28th 2008, the Stephen Lewis Foundation and SAFER presented an intimate evening with Stephen Lewis, Eve Ensler (Vagina Monologues playwright  and founder of  V-Day: A Global Movement to End Violence Against Women and Girls) and Dr. Denis Mukwege (founder and Director of the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DRC) for a moving and inspiring conversation at the University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall. Moderated by CBC Radio One’s Anna-Maria Tremonti, these three activists for women’s equality, safety and freedom from violence and fear had a far-reaching conversation about rape as a weapon of war and the escalating violence against women and girls in the DRC.

Since 1998, civil war and related violence has claimed more than 5 million people in the DRC and countless women have been brutally raped, tortured and humiliated. Once a maternity hospital, Panzi Hospital now provides free care and refuge to over 3,000 victims of sexual violence each year. Dr. Mukwege leads a team of surgeons who routinely work 18-hour days to repair women’s extensive internal injuries. In April 2008, Dr. Mukwege testified before the first American Congressional hearing on rape as a weapon of war. He described the sexual violence in the DRC as “a shameful crime against humanity.”

The Panzi Hospital is funded in part by SAFER, the Stephen Lewis Foundation and Eve Ensler’s organization. SLF and V-Day also support the City of Joy, a revolutionary new community for women survivors of gender-based violence, which works in conjunction with the Panzi Hospital.  All proceeds from the evening went to the Panzi Hospital through the Stephen Lewis Foundation and SAFER.

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