Dr. Denis Mukwege is a gynecologist and the founder of Panzi, a hospital whose primary mission is treating women who have been raped - casualties in the Democratic Republic of Congo's decades-long war. At the hospital, in the Kivu district of the country, Mukwege and his mostly female team provide reconstructive surgery and psychological counseling, as well as literacy and other programs designed to help patients reintegrate into a society that has a history of shaming and ostracizing rape survivors.
From Senegalese filmmaker Angèle Diabang, CONGO: THE DOCTOR WHO SAVES WOMEN offers the intimate testimonies of women who have been treated at Panzi, along with the perspectives of psychologists and doctors who work there.
Huddled on a bench in a corridor, facing the wall, Annie-Francoise recounts how her family rejected her after she was raped by a militiaman; she is pregnant and hopes to go back to school after having her baby. Regina stares straight ahead and describes how her husband threw her out after she was raped by several soldiers. They are among the thousands of women treated at Panzi, where the model of care is female-centered. In addition to formal therapy, women participate in communal activities. By cooking, singing, and washing together, these shared daily tasks become therapeutic.
Mukwege and others call the rape epidemic in the DRC a crime of war. The widespread sexual assaults create a climate of terror that rival groups use to their advantage - with the ultimate goal of laying their hands on valuable resources.
Through the work of Dr Mukwege, the film highlights the atrocities perpetrated on Congolese women, but also offers vivid accounts of their resilience and determination to not be defined by the crimes committed against them.
“Powerful and deeply disturbing... Highly recommended.” —Video Librarian
World Languages Film Festival