"In the Congo, where tens of thousands of women are brutally raped every year, Dr. Denis Mukwege repairs their broken bodies and souls. Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, visits him and finds hope amid the horror.
August 1, 2007 By Eve EnslerI have just returned from hell. I am trying for the life of me to figure out how to communicate what I have seen and heard in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. How do I convey these stories of atrocities without your shutting down, quickly turning the page or feeling too disturbed?
How do I tell you of girls as young as nine raped by gangs of soldiers, of women whose insides were blown apart by rifle blasts and whose bodies now leak uncontrollable streams of urine and feces?
How you can help
The women of Eastern Congo, V-Day and UNICEF—the latter acting on behalf of United Nations Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict—are launching a new campaign to urge an end to the femicide and raise money for women’s groups in the Congo. You can…
Write a letter addressed to His Excellency, the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila Kabange; demand that he take action to stop the attacks on women. Send it to U.N. Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, P.O. Box 3862, New York, NY 10163, and it will be delivered to Kabila.
Donate directly to Panzi Hospital through vday.org.
Money donated to Panzi also goes to establish a City of Joy, a safe haven for the healed women, where they’ll learn to become political leaders.
This journey was a departure for me. It began with a man, Dr. Denis Mukwege, and a conversation we had in New York City in December 2006, when he came to speak about his work helping women at Panzi Hospital in Bukavu. It began with my rusty French and his limited English. It began with the quiet anguish in his bloodshot eyes, eyes that seemed to me to be bleeding from the horrors he’d witnessed.
Something happened in this conversation that compelled me to go halfway around the world to visit the doctor, this holy man who was sewing up women as fast as the mad militiamen could rip them apart.
I am going to tell the stories of the patients he saves so that the faceless, generic, raped women of war become Alfonsine and Nadine—women with names and memories and dreams. I am going to ask you to stay with me, to open your hearts, to be as outraged and nauseated as I felt sitting in Panzi Hospital in faraway Bukavu.
Before I went to the Congo, I’d spent the past 10 years working on V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls. I’d traveled to the rape mines of the world, places like Bosnia, Afghanistan and Haiti, where rape has been used as a tool of war. But nothing I ever experienced felt as ghastly, terrifying and complete as the sexual torture and attempted destruction of the female species here. It is not too strong to call this a femicide, to say that the future of the Congo’s women is in serious jeopardy."