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Denis Mukwege: Sakharov Prize winner and champion of human rights

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By Euronews
Denis Mukwege: Sakharov Prize winner and champion of human rights

<p>Denis Mukwege, has been awarded the 2014 European Parliament Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.</p> <p>For 15 years, the gynaecologist has treated tens of thousands of victims of rape and genital mutilation in his native Democratic Republic of Congo.</p> <p>He used his acceptance speech at a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, to highlight their plight.</p> <p>“Women’s bodies have become a battlefield and rape is being used as a weapon of war. There are multiple consequences as a result, which impact on the whole of society. The family unit is disintegrated, and the social fabric destroyed. In a largely militarised economy, populations are reduced to slavery or simply forced into exile,” he said.</p> <p>Denis Mukwege has fought for their human rights in the mineral-rich east of the <span class="caps">DRC</span>; an area largely controlled by armed gangs There, the abuse of women is endemic and people are often forced to flee.</p> <p>Both Dr Mukwege and European Parliament President Martin Schulz called for the <a href="http://www.euronews.com/2014/11/26/sakharov-prize-winner-mukwege-calls-for-justice-and-deliverance-for-drc-s-women/">perpetrators to be brought to justice</a>.</p> <p>“The de-facto impunity for rape in armed conflicts must be ended. When military commanders use and impose rape, then it is a war crime. These war crimes must be punished as war crimes!”, exclaimed Schulz.</p> <p>Stating that there are half a million victims of sexual assault in the <span class="caps">DRC</span>, Mukwege called for the root cause of the violence to be addressed urgently.</p> <p>This could be achieved, he said, with the establishment of an International Criminal Tribunal in the east of the country.</p>