Friday, June 30, 2017

Grand Duchess Supports Survivors of Wartime Sexual Assault

All photos: Mukwege Foundation / Jeppe Schilder
Grand Duchess Maria Teresa visited Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday where she was among the guests for an exhibition by women who survived wartime sexual assault. The exhibition is organised together by Foundation of Dr. Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist who specialises in the treatment of women who have been gang-raped or suffered other wartime sexual assault during the ongoing violent conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Fondation du Grand-Duc et de la Grand-Duchesse
The Grand Duchess used the occasion to announce the holding of an international symposium in Luxembourg for survivors of wartime sexuael violence on March 8, 2019. Wartime sexual violence is rape or other forms of sexual violence committed by combatants during armed conflict or war or military occupation often as spoils of war; not only but oftentimes in ethnic conflict. 
Dr. Denis Mukwege has dedicated his life to defending, supporting and assisting female survivors of rape. He spends 18 hours a day doing operations to repair the horrific physical damage caused by gang-rape. 
Each month the Panzi Hospital founded by Dr. Mukwege admits more than 400 patients and he is one of only a few doctors qualified to preform the delicate and complex surgeries required to repair vaginal tears and vaginal fistulas that result from these violent assaults. His hospital has provided over 4,000 free surgeries just to treat fistula. These circumstances have led to Dr. Mukwege becoming the world's leading expert on repairing the internal trauma caused by gang-rape and sexual assaults.
The Geneva exhibition is the result of a reflection process initiated by about twenty women who suffered sexual violence from 15 different countries. They met for the first time in Switzerland to initiate a movement in order to work for the fighting and long-term prevention of rape committed during armed conflicts. 
"It is through initiatives like this that women can strengthen their influence and visibility in the prevention of of violence. Together these women are a formidable force that will not be stopped", the Grand Duchess said.
The Grand Duchess has been a supporter of the cause and Dr. Denis Mukwege for a few years no having met him in both 2016 and earlier this year, among others.

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