At least 40 men, women and children in eastern Congo have been raped in the past two weeks, the United Nations said Friday, in the same area of the country where a series of mass sex assaults have taken place over the past several months.
Two separate groups of civilians had been returning from shopping trips to a local market on two different occasions.
“Rape continues to be a plague, a pandemic which risks spreading across the D.R.C.,” a U.N. spokesman told the New York Times.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the most war-torn parts of the world. More than 5.5 million people have been killed in fighting since 1998, mainly over control of vast mineral resources. Rape has been used systematically as a weapon of enforcement by both the official army and rebel groups.
It's estimated that someone is raped every eight minutes in the country.
Earlier this week, in an unprecedented development, a senior army officer was sentenced to no more than 20 years in prison for ordering his troops to beat and rape scores of residents in the town of Fizi in a New Year's Day attack.
It was the first time an army officer has been held accountable in Congo for using mass rape as a weapon against the population.
In the video above, "8 Minutes in the Congo," actress Sienna Miller reveals the horrors of mass rape in the country.