KINSHASA, Congo — Militiamen and renegade soldiers have raped and beaten tens of thousands of women and girls in eastern Congo, and nearly all the crimes have gone unpunished, an international human rights group said Monday.
Hundreds of rapes are reported every week, but only 10 soldiers and militants have been convicted of rape in relatively lawless eastern Congo since the end of the country's devastating war in 2002, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a 52-page report.
"Perpetrators of sexual violence are members of virtually all the armed forces and armed groups that operate in eastern Congo," it said. "The Congolese justice system has to date failed to address the egregious problem."
At least 10 women were being raped every day in the town of Bunia as recently as October, according to the report.
Warring ethnic Hema and Lendu militia continue to terrorize Bunia, kicking down doors in the night and grabbing girls in the fields, despite the presence of thousands of U.N. peacekeepers based there.
Peacekeepers have also been accused of raping girls living in the town's sprawling camp for those displaced by fighting, or trading sweets and pocket change for sex.