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Home / Press Release / Human Rights First Selects Dr. Denis Mukwege to Receive Human Rights Award
August 05, 2013

Human Rights First Selects Dr. Denis Mukwege to Receive Human Rights Award

New York City – Human Rights First will honor Dr. Denis Mukwege of the Democratic Republic of Congo with its 2013 Human Rights Award.  Dr. Mukwege will be recognized for his tireless and courageous work on behalf of women victims of rape in war-torn DRC.  The organization will present the Human Rights Award to Dr. Mukwege at its annual gala on October 23 at Chelsea Piers in New York City.

The United Nations has called the Democratic Republic of Congo “the rape capital of the world.”  For nearly 15 years, Dr. Mukwege, a gynecologist, has been healing women traumatized by gang rape, becoming the world’s leading expert in this grim specialty. He founded Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where he and his colleagues have treated thousands of women since 1998, providing them psychological, medical, socio-economic and legal support.

Dr. Mukwege has also been an outspoken advocate, calling for accountability for these horrific crimes. Last September, Dr. Mukwege gave a speech at the United Nations in which he condemned impunity for mass rape in the DRC, openly criticizing the international community and the Congolese government for its inaction.  In October armed men attacked Dr. Mukwege’s residence, held his daughters hostage, and killed his bodyguard. Dr. Mukwege was able to escape and fled with his family into exile in Europe. Despite threats to his safety, Dr. Mukwege returned to the DRC in January to resume his important work.

“Human Rights First is proud to honor Dr. Mukwege for his tireless work and incredible personal courage in the face of violence,” said Human Rights First’s President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “His dedication to healing women victims of war and his outspoken condemnation of violence against women is an inspiration. We are grateful for the opportunity to recognize Dr. Mukwege.”

For more than 20 years, Human Rights First has presented its annual human rights awards to courageous activists on the frontlines of the struggle for freedom. Last year the group honored blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng; the award was presented by Academy award-winning actor Christian Bale. Former recipients of the Human Rights First award include:  Basem Fathy of Egypt; Shehrbano Tasser of Pakistan; Julius Kaggwa of Uganda; Viktória Mohácsi of Hungary; Damos De Blanco (Ladies in White) of Cuba; Ludmilla Alexeeva of Russia; Helen Mack of Guatemala; Merenghiz Kar of Iran; Saad Eddin Ibrahim of Egypt; Albie Sachs of South Africa; and Hina Jalani of Pakistan.

For more information about the dinner, or to speak with Massimino, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at bowersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3323.