Our missionaries share their ministry with those around them by finding others in the area to help encourage and be a support in both friendship and ministry. Bill and Sue Vinton are blessed to know this man and watch in the ministry he does. He lives just a few doors down from Bill and Sue Vinton in the Congo.
Dr. Mukwege works at Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo treating women who have been victims of sexual violence. “Rape is one of the most deadly weapons of war, destroying families and communities and future generations, as well as the women brutally targeted.” Dr. Mukwege hoped that the situation would improve but since the beginning of this year, women have started coming back to the hospital in greater numbers to seek help.
The hospital, located near Bukavu, aims to help with all aspects of sexual abuse including physiological counseling, legal representation and financial support. Though help is offered in such areas, they are unable to provide help with the cause of the sexual violence, which brings in the women time after time. “So now I am trying to use my voice, domestically and internationally, to address the causes of this violence and to call for peace and justice.”
A few weeks ago Dr. Mukwege was attacked and almost killed in one of the most guarded and secure areas in Bukavu, his own home. He had left briefly to help a patient who requested medical advice and returned to his children sitting on the couch, being held at gunpoint. A man then held a loaded gun up to his head with a man ready to shoot behind it. A staff member then ran in shouting and ran to jump on the gunman who turned and shot the brave hero. “He fell down, I fell down, and I can’t really remember what happened after that. I realized he was shot, and I saw him give his life for me.” It was at that point the intruders left.
He was not questioned about the incident or about who may have done this. However, this is not uncommon in his country. Through all of this, his safety is not the main concern but for that of the women who are still being sexually abused. “It is not enough to assure my security, if even that can be done, when women are being violated with impunity on a daily basis.”
The experience was an eye opening one for Dr. Mukwege. For 16 years he worked in the Panzi Hospital with the victims, telling them to return to their villages following medical care. “I now understand this in a different way and my thoughts are with the women of my country who have suffered so much.” Dr. Mukwege’s safety was a great concern after the attack but he believes that each of these woman attacked have undergone intense trauma and deserve the international attention that he received. “We talk about them as numbers and we don’t fully appreciate that they are individual human beings who have each been through a horrifying and destructive experience.” The women of the world deserve protection.
The sexual violence taking place and affecting these women’s lives is not taking place in some far distant land but near and dear to us. These attacks are on women within our society, our family members, our friends and our neighbors. “We all belong to the same family of human society.”
Please pray for these women and for Dr. Mukwege and his staff as they continue to treat and help the victims of sexual violence.
Photo and information from The New York Times
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