Thursday, October 28, 2021

Congolese Human Rights Advocate Wins Award for Work with Female Victims of Wartime Sexual Abuse

Human rights activist Julien Luseng from the Democratic Republic of the Congo was recently announced the winner of the 2021 Aurora Humanitarian Award for her work with victims of sexual violence. She was one of five humanitarian finalists up for the prize, often referred to as the Nobel Prize for Humanitarian Work.

The 6th Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity was announced on Saturday (October 9) at a ceremony on the Venetian island of San Lazzaro degli Armani in Italy.

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Lucenz was awarded a million-dollar prize for her tireless work with women and girls who were abused during the war, and for her efforts to help bring perpetrators of rape and sexual violence to justice.

She is the co-founder and director of the Congolese Women’s Fund.

Four of the five finalists for the Aurora Prize at the ceremony on the island of San Lazzaro in Venice. (S.Castlefranco/VOA)

Other nominees include Gregoire Ahongbonnen, who helps people in West Africa with mental illness, Ruby Alba Castano, a Colombian activist who defends farmers’ rights, Ashwak Muharram, a Yemeni doctor who deals with starvation. Provide life saving assistance to people and include Paul Farmer. , an American medical anthropologist and physician.

The ceremony began with music and a special prayer at the monastery of San Lazarus Island by a sect of Armenian monks who have lived on the island since the early 18th century.

Julien Luseng and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, Aurora Awards Ceremony, Rome.  (S.Castlefranco/VOA)

Julien Luseng and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, Aurora Awards Ceremony, Rome. (S.Castlefranco/VOA)

After speeches and performances by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, the finalists were called to an outdoor stage overlooking the Lagoon of Venice.

The winner’s name was announced, which was a very emotional moment not only for Lucenz, but for many of those present, including two female Nobel Peace Prize winners: Iran’s Shirin Ebadi and Liberia’s Lemon. Gobi.

Lucenz was in disbelief and tears welled up when she heard that she had been chosen.

“This award is very important for all Congolese people, Congolese women and Congolese girls because now we will have enough money to support them,” she expressed.

For many years, Lucenz said, she struggled to find money to help these women. He said that this award will make a huge contribution in this regard.

The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity was established by three philanthropists of Armenian origin: Vartan Gregorian, Nubar Afyan and Ruben Vardanian in 2015 on the centenary of that country’s genocide. They decided that for eight years – a period of atrocities in which one and a half million Armenians were killed – exceptional humanists would be rewarded for their work and impact.

Noubar Afeyan, co-founder and president of Moderna, Rome, October 11, 2021.  (S.Castelfranco/VOA)

Noubar Afeyan, co-founder and president of Moderna, Rome, October 11, 2021. (S.Castelfranco/VOA)

Afian described it as “a gift to the world from the Armenian community”. Their aim, he said, is to help those who are making a difference in the world, in the same way that helped Armenians survive.

In addition to creating an annual award for those who have taken personal risk to enable others to survive, Afian is also the founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, a venture capital company focused on biotechnology. The company has “fostered the development of more than 100 scientific ventures”, including Moderna, at which he serves as chairman. Afyan was recognized last year as one of four US immigrants leading efforts to find a vaccine for COVID-19.

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