The number of rapes reported in Sud-Kivu, an eastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in the last three months was more than half the total number of incidents reported there last year. The attacks are primarily by the Democratic Forces of the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Rwandan Hutu rebel group, reported IRIN. There are 463 reported incidents over the three month time period.
Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in May that “there is terrible violence currently in Sud-Kivu, especially in the region of Kakeli” and that they are also “seeing an extremely grave trend with rapes used as a weapon of war,” reported Agence France Press.
In May, a three-year-old child reportedly died from related injuries after being raped by a rebel fighter in Sud-Kivu. Combatants also reportedly raped three of the child’s sisters, who range in age from 12 to 17, reported Reuters.
Since the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo began in 1998, tens of thousands of women and girls have been raped in sexual violence widely viewed to be a war tactic. Thousands of Congolese women marched in Kinshasa late last year to protest rape as a weapon of war.