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2014 Coventry International Prize for Peace and Reconciliation

Talk by the winner: Thérèse Mema Mapenzi

Monday 17 November 2014
Ramphal Building

'Let's talk about trauma: how talking can be the first step to healing for rape victims in war'


Thérèse Mema Mapenzi has been awarded the 2014 Coventry International Prize for Peace and Reconciliation.

She is the Sexual Violence Programme Leader for the Justice and Peace Commission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and works with rape victims in the city in Bukavu, in South Kivu, which is in the east of the country.

Thérèse runs 16 listening centres in different villages in South Kivu. These centres help women to tell their stories in a safe place, coming to terms with their ordeals through counselling, listening and support.

In this talk, Thérèse will share the challenges that she faces in this work and the support that people need to speak out about sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Thérèse says:

'It is very important that the voices of women affected by sexual violence are heard. Rape has become a weapon of war and we must not let it be forgotten because it has become commonplace. Every assault against a woman or girl is a terrifying and devastating experience, especially when it is often followed by stigmatisation by family and friends.

The Listening Rooms offer a safe place for women to talk and make friends with other women who have been raped. When many have been disowned by their families and communities after their attacks, the Listening Room becomes their family and offers a crucial life-line in very hard times.’

About the Coventry Prize for Peace and Reconciliation

Coventry Peace PrizeWe're playing an active role alongside Coventry Cathedral, Coventry City Council, the Diocese of Coventry and Coventry University in the Coventry International Prize of Peace and Reconciliation. The Prize rewards and encourages creative and courageous peace builders around the world. It is a civic, religious and academic partnership unique to Coventry. It honours initiatives, organisations, individuals or projects that have made an exemplary contribution to working for peace and reconciliation, or in campaigns for social and environmental wellbeing.

The Prize is aimed at world-wide grassroots projects and local communities, rather than international media or diplomacy and is open to all, irrespective of nationality, ethnicity or faith.

Those who are shortlisted are judged on the impact of their work as a in inspiration and model for others. Specifically they will have made demonstrable, practical improvements to the wellbeing of communities, especially in conflict or post-conflict situations.

Following a process of nomination and selection overseen by a steering committee, the Lord Mayor, Bishop, Vice Chancellors of the University of Warwick and Coventry University and the Dean of Coventry, are given the challenging task of deciding the recipient and the wards night is held on 14 November to mark the night of the Blitz and the birth of Coventry’s role as a City of Peace and Reconciliation.

This year – the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War – the Award is being re-launched to give it the international standing it deserves. The city, its universities and its leading firms and organisations are now playing a key role in championing new ways of thinking and providing a platform to bring countries and people together.