Friday, November 17, 2006

Hundreds of Thousands raped in Congo Wars

The growing incidence of rape in the Congo violence has led some human rights groups to describe it as a "weapon of war" to punihs communities for their political loyalties or as a form of ethnic clensing.

In one province alone, South Kivu, about 42,000 women were treated in health clinics for serious sexual assaults last year, according to statistics collected by the human rights group, Global Rights.

Immaculee Birhaheka, head of a women's rights group in Goma, Paif, said those women who make it to hospital are just a fraction of those attacked. "It's impossible to know how many women have been raped in the war but it is hundreds of thousands," she said.

Some human rights groups are calling for the leaders of groups responsible for the tide of rape to be brought before the International Criminal Court in the Hague. One militia leader, Thomas Lubanga, founder of the Union of Congolese Patriots, went on trial before the the ICC last week for the forced recruitment of child soldiers, although his troops were also involved in the systematic rape of civilians.


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