2nd Congress of the Mukwege Chair in Bukavu while a background of concern in North Kivu
The 2nd Congress of the Mukwege Chair of the ULiège (Chair on "Violence against women and girls in conflicts") was held from 1 to 3 November 2022 in Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Great Lakes region, while a little further up in North Kivu, the rebels of the 23 March Movement (M23) have seized two strategic towns, Kiwanja centre and Rutshuru.
The fear and anger of the population led to the organisation of a peaceful demonstration on Tuesday 2 November in the town of Bukavu. Fear of a return to the abuses perpetrated by the armed groups and anger at the inability of the Congolese army to stop the movement due to a lack of resources. The UN and the United States have strongly condemned the resumption of fighting.
The theme of the congress is reparation for victims of sexual and gender-based violence. Dr. Denis Mukwege, Nobel Peace Prize winner, has made this his battle. The congress takes place in Bukavu, at the Université Évangélique en Afrique (UEA), located next to the Panzi Hospital, where Dr Mukwege and his team repair women and children who are victims of rape and sexual violence. These abominable practices raise the question of prevention of such violence and its origins, but also of medical, psychological, socio-economic and legal reparation. 400 people attended the conference. The rector of the ULiège, Anne-Sophie Nyssen, as well as Professors Véronique De Keyser and Adélaïde Blavier, respectively president and coordinator of the Chair, came to open the congress in the presence of Dr. Mukwege and the rector of the UEA. The congress addresses this issue in an interdisciplinary manner. The scientific community took advantage of Dr. Mukwege's presence to strongly support the fight against the abuses perpetrated by armed groups.
The International Chair on "Violence against women and girls in conflicts", abbreviated to "Mukwege Chair", was created in 2018 by the University of Liège in consultation with Dr. Denis Mukwege. Initiated by Professor Emeritus (ULiège) and former MEP Véronique De Keyser, the Chair aims to develop interdisciplinary research in the field of sexual violence against women and to federate the knowledge of different partners and universities around the world on this topic.
The Mukwege Chair is attached to the “Centre d'Expertise en Psychotraumatismes et Psychologie légale”, directed by Pr Adélaïde Blavier at the University of Liège, a centre with which a close collaboration between the team of psychologists of the Panzi Hospital and the “Asbl Les Enfants de Panzi et d'Ailleurs” has been established with the support of the University Hospital of Liège (CHU Liège).
The objective of the Mukwege Chair is to create an international research network on the theme of sexual violence suffered by women in conflict situations. The Mukwege Chair intends to promote cross-cutting research and develop knowledge in order to better understand both the prevention and the follow-up of women victims of sexual violence. The opening ceremony of the first Mukwege Chair conference took place on 13 November 2019 at the University of Liège in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen.
SAKIFE, Christophe Smets' photo exhibition on women's health in Kivu
From 17 November to 23 December 2022
Aula Central Building, place du 20-Août 7, Liège
« Faire face à l’inhumain. Autour du Docteur Denis Mukwege », par Véronique De Keyser et Adélaïde Blavier (dir.), Presses Universitaires de Liège, collection « Maison des Sciences de l’Homme », Liège, 2022.