Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) strongly condemns a decision by the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to ban a film on sexual violence in the country in an attempt to cover up this pervasive issue. PHR urges the government to reverse its decision and instead to support screenings of the film to demonstrate a commitment to holding to account those responsible for sexual violence and ensuring justice for survivors.
The Ministry of Media has banned screenings of The Man who Mends Women in the DRC – the Wrath of Hippocrates, a documentary highlighting the work of Dr. Denis Mukwege, founder and director of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu and renowned champion of women’s rights and dignity. Dr. Mukwege has dedicated his life to ensuring that survivors of sexual violence receive the physical and psychological care and support they need to recover and ultimately seek justice. The government’s banning of the documentary undermines one of the most powerful voices on the issue of sexual violence – the voice of Dr. Mukwege. This act of censorship not only violates freedom of expression and the right to information, but effectively silences survivors by hiding the stories of their suffering, healing, and resilience.
The prevalence and brutality of sexual violence have become defining features of the protracted conflict in the DRC. But the government has the power to change that narrative. Instead of denying the pervasiveness of sexual violence and the harm caused to victims, the government should address the high rates of such crimes in the country.