Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg was in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday where she visited an exhibition by women who survived wartime sexual assault. It was organised together with the Foundation of Dr Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynaecologist, who specialises in the treatment of women who have suffered wartime sexual assault in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or women who have been gang-raped, and by the Fondation du Grand-Duc et de la Grand-Duchesse.
Dr Mukwege has dedicated his life to supporting survivors of rape, and he often spends up to 18 hours a day doing operations to repair the horrific damage caused by these rapes. Dr Mukwege founded the Panzi hospital, where more than 400 patients are admitted each month as he is one of the few doctors qualified to perform the complex surgery requires to repair vaginal tears and vaginal fistulas that are the result of these rapes. The Panzi Hospital has provided over 4,000 free surgeries just to treat the vaginal fistulas. This has led to him becoming the world’s leading expert on repairing trauma of this kind.
About 20 women from 15 different countries, who have suffered wartime sexual assault, came together for this exhibition in Geneva. They did not know each other before beginning to work together on this exhibition.
Grand Duchess Maria Teresa also announced a future international symposium in Luxembourg for the survivors of wartime sexual assault, which is set to take place on 8 March 2019.
“It is through initiatives like this that women can strengthen their influence and visibility in the prevention of violence. Together these women are a formidable force that will not be stopped”, the Grand Duchess said.
Grand Duchess Maria Teresa has met with Dr Mukwege several times before and has been a supporter of his cause.