Local media outlets are reporting that 100 women have been sexually assaulted and injured over a two-day time period. Suspected Congo rebels are accused of being involved in the latest case of mass rape.
Congo has been labelled as the “worst nation on Earth to be a woman” because of mass sexual assaults. A recent American Journal of Public Health study concluded that 48 women are raped every hour in the unstable African nation.
According to new local media and international aid workers’ reports released Thursday by Reuters Alert Net, approximately 100 women in the eastern part of the resource-rich Democratic Republic of Congo have been sexually assaulted and injured.
Mission head in South Kivu from the Dutch branch of Doctors Without Borders, Megan Hunter, said medical teams were dispatched to the area to begin mass vaccination programs when they were being told about the rapes. “We've certainly treated over 100 women who say they have been raped or are suffering trauma.”
The sexual attacks, which occurred in villages north of Fizi in South Kivu between June 10 and June 12, have been blamed on a group of 200 suspected Congo rebels. These rebels were integrated into the Congolese military, but deserted the army earlier this month.
A spokesperson for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo was not able to confirm the reports, but noted that they are investigating the matter.
Jean-Marie Ngoma, a Provincial Parliamentarian, told the London Guardian that he is one of those who accused the rebels of the mass rape. Ngoma alleges that the appalling act was committed by former fighters from the Pareco rebel group.
“These men looted health centres, phones, goats, property of the population and also forced some people to carry their luggage,” said Ngoma. “But the worst case is that of mass rapes they have committed in Nyakiele. The information I have from reliable sources speaks of more than 60 women raped by the troops. People are in total despair.”
The central African country has been plagued by rape for years. Between 2006 and 2007, during a nationwide conflict, more than 400,000 women between the ages of 15 and 49 were raped, according to the American Journal of Public Health study.
In February, a former colonel in the Congolese army was sentenced to 20 years in prison for ordering his men to rape the women of Fizi.