The University of Liège (ULiège) has created an international Chair dedicated to the sexual violence suffered by women and girls in conflict situations. It has been named the Mukwege Chair in tribute to the man who received the Nobel Peace Prize this month.
“The aim is to develop interdisciplinary research in this area, pool our knowledge and promote the results of this research”, stated Véronique De Keyser, Honorary member of the European Parliament and President of the Belgian non-profit association Les enfants de Panzi et d’Ailleurs which provides psychological to support to child victims of sexual violence in conflict zones. Dr Denis Mukwege is the gynaecologist known as “the man who repairs women”. He is internationally renowned for his work in the Democratic Republic of Congo with female victims of sexual violence. Specialising in reconstructive surgery, he operates on women at the Panzi Hospital (Bukavu, capital of South Kivu Province), which he founded. Recognising that it would take more than just surgery for a wounded victim to recover, in 2013, he began to make contact with doctors at the University Hospital of Liège with the goal of establishing cooperation programmes, particularly in terms of psychological support.
The Mukwege Chair, which is designed in particular to pool knowledge in the field of sexual violence towards women, will bring together various Belgian and African universities. Other universities in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and France are already being contacted. The objective is also to organise one major conference per year. The first one will be held in Liège in November 2019, then in another partner country with the commitment that this conference will take place in Africa every three years.