DR Congo bans film on doctor who treats rape victims

rape1The Democratic Republic of Congo has banned an acclaimed film about Congolese surgeon Denis Mukwege, who has treated thousands of women raped during conflict, the government said.

Belgian film maker Thierry Michel’s movie, “The Man Who Mends Women,” follows Mukwege’s efforts to repair the physical and psychological injuries of the victims of sexual violence by armed forces and militia groups in eastern DRC against women.

“I have decided not to approve this film,” Lambert Mende, the DRC’s media minister, told AFP in Kinshasa, confirming a claim by Michel.

“There is a clear intent to harm and sully the image of our army and no country in the world could tolerate it. That is why we have banned the showing of the film here.”

Michel said he had previously been told by Congolese authorities that the film would be approved.

He said it was “unfathomable” that Kinshasa had banned it despite the fact that it had been widely shown around the world for six months.

The film follows the activity of gynaecologist Mukwege in the Panzi Hospital he founded in 1999, and which he has run in the South Kivu city Bukavu while operating on several rape victims each day.

The militants vying for control of the region’s mineral wealth use rape to terrorise the local population, though members of the army are also known to have undertaken regular waves of mass sexual assault.

Mukwege was awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov rights prize last November.

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