Dr. Denis Mukwege: ‘We have to be ready to protect women and girls’

ABC News’ Linsey Davis spoke with Nobel laureate and gynecological surgeon Dr. Denis Mukwege on his new book, “The Power of Women,” which brings attention to violence against women.
5:51 | 05/24/22

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Transcript for Dr. Denis Mukwege: ‘We have to be ready to protect women and girls’
- Joining us now is Nobel laureate, world-renowned gynecological surgeon and human rights activist, Dr. Denis Mukwege, whose award-winning book, The Power of Women: a Doctor's Journey of Hope and Healing, works to shine a light on sexual violence and the strength and resilience of women around the world. Dr. Mukwege, thank you so much for joining us. Among your achievements is really shining a light, as far as what you witnessed firsthand during your time as a surgeon during the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Tell us about what you witnessed. - Yeah. Thank you for inviting me. And I want just to say that working for 40 years with women as obstetrician and surgeon, and now, an activist against the sexual violence in conflict, I just feel that it was really very, very important to pay tribute to women who shaped my life, and really, what I am today, seeing that women play a big role in my life. So to write this book, for me, it was really to tribute what they did for me. - And of course, you've heard countless stories from women. Is there one in particular that really sticks with you? - Yeah. When I treated women after rape-- and it's not only rape, but is rape with extreme violence. Most of the time, I have the impression that they will never stand up, and they will never really get a normal life, but what really touched me is to see how women are able to stand up, and not only to stand up for them, but to stand up for others. And especially one-- Bernadette-- when she came to the hospital, she was completely destroyed. And really, all the staff was so traumatized to see what happened to her. But after to treat her medically and psychologically, and she decided to be a nurse. And when I ask her the question, why do you want to be a nurse? And she told me, I want to be a nurse, because I want to help others. - And you've talked about rape as a weapon of war. Of course, most of this was born out of the original conflict that you witnessed in the DRC. But now, we see it happening-- these stories, these allegations of rape playing out rampantly in Ukraine and the war there. How do you tackle such a wide-ranging problem? DR. DENIS MUKWEGE: Yeah, I think rape as a weapon of war is happening everywhere in the world. Where there is war, women and girls are suffering. And most of the time, rape is used in many conflicts, but it's a taboo. People are not talking about it. And what is happening in Ukraine is not unique. It's happened in Congo, in Yemen, and Tigray, and so on. But I think that we need to be aware about this situation, and just know that when a conflict, a conflict army appears, we have to be ready to protect women and girls. And I think that the way that the international community acts when it happens in Ukraine-- this is the way that it should be done everywhere in the world when there is a conflict, to protect women and girls. Because we know that they are paying a lot when there is an armed conflict. - A lot of people are going to look at the topic and say, oh, this is for women. But you've also talked about the pivotal role that men obviously play in ending sexual violence. What do you hope that men take away from your book? - Yeah, during the last century, women worked a lot to get some rights. And I think that today, we need also to engage men in the fight against sexual violence. And for me, the things that we need really to do is to work on the equality between women and men. And I think that the question of sexual violence is a question of domination. It's a question of treatment, yet another [INAUDIBLE] that is not like myself. And I think that working on equality is the first thing. And the second thing-- I think we have to work on masculinity. Because I think that when men have impression that they can be in a situation where they can use women as their property, they can use a body of women without really being accountable-- LINSEY DAVIS: You've witnessed, really, some of the worst of humanity. When you look at your body of work and how that's resulted in several attacks against your life, what gives you hope? What keeps you inspired? - Yeah. I went through many attacks, because just impunity is running in my region. And I think that the people who bring this kind of atrocities-- they don't want when I denounce what they are doing in my region. But my hope is coming from women. I think that women are really very strong. And I respect women, because I think that when women are acting, they are not acting for themselves, but they are acting for their children, for the community. - Dr. Mukwege, we thank you so much for your time. His book, The Power of Women: a Doctor's Journey of Hope and Healing, is available now wherever books are sold.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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