400,000 rapes in Congo in one year

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The Independent Online

More than 1,000 women are raped every day in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a US study shows.

The analysis, to be published in the American Journal of Public Health, shows that more than 400,000 women had been raped in Congo during a 12-month period between 2006 and 2007.

That is 1,152 women raped every day, a rate equal to 48 per hour.

Michelle Hindin, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the rate could be even higher.

The survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews, and people are not always forthcoming about the violence they have suffered when talking to strangers.

"The numbers are astounding," she said.

Congo, a nation of 70 million people equal in size to Western Europe, has been plagued by decades of war. Its vast forests are rife with militias that have systematically used rape to destroy communities.