During a failed prison break, 20 women were brutally raped in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) late Sunday. During a botched escape attempt from a prison in Goma, ex-militia members allegedly violently attacked 20 female inmates and killed two guards after they failed to break through the prison’s walls to escape. The offending prisoners were mostly from death row, sentenced for “murder, rape and other grave offences,” according to IRIN.
According to the Canadian Press, the prison was built to hold 150, but currently houses over 600 inmates.
UN chief Ban Ki-moo said, “I am deeply distressed by the rape and assault of about 20 female inmates during an attempted escape from Goma’s central prison,” in a statement to Agence France Presse.” This a grim example of both the prison conditions and the level of sexual violence that plagues the DRC.”
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. According to the Daily Nation, humanitarian groups have estimated that between 400 to over 1,000 rapes occurred in the eastern part of the country alone during just the first three months of this year.