December 16, 2008
Rape as a weapon of war in DR Congo

War has raged through the Democratic Republic of Congo for more than a decade — it has been called the deadliest conflict since World War II.

The United Nations estimates that 200,000 women and girls have been raped in that time, some victims as young as three years old.

Both the Congolese army and rebel groups have used rape as a weapon of war.

Armed groups use rape to tear apart families, spread disease and weaken communities. Women are often victimized doubly — first by their rapists and secondly by spouses or family members who then find it dishonorable or socially unacceptable to associate with them.

Worldfocus special correspondent Michael J. Kavanagh of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and video journalist Taylor Krauss recently reported from eastern Congo. Together with Lisa Biagiotti and Bijan Rezvani, they produced this signature story.

See their previous signature story: War in DR Congo: The story of Pascal and Vestine.

Watch a companion Web-exclusive video: Rehabilitating rape victims and families in Congo.

Michael Kavanagh and Worldfocus anchor Martin Savidge, along with other experts, held an online radio show on roots of the conflict and prospects for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

For more on the conflict, read our Q&A: History, rebels and crisis in eastern Congo or read Human Rights Watch’s background and timeline of the conflict.

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