A shocking new study reveals that 48 women and girls are raped each hour in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The numbers, published in the American Journal of Public Health, are far higher than previously reported figures. The United Nations had estimated 16,000 rapes occurred in the conflict-torn nation in one year, a far cry from the 400,000 that this study suggests.
And unfortunately even these latest figures might be a severe underestimate, one of the study’s authors, Amber Peterman, said, reports the BBC.
"Even these new, much higher figures still represent a conservative estimate of the true prevalence of sexual violence because of chronic underreporting due to stigma, shame, perceived impunity, and exclusion of younger and older age groups as well as men," she said.
Numbers in the report, titled “Determinants of Sexual Violence Against Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” are from a government survey in 2007 and only include women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49. Officials in the nation attribute the higher rape estimates to the women’s increasing ability to report the crime.
The mineral-rich nation has been plagued by conflict and corruption for decades due to its vast natural resources. Between 1998 and 2003 DR Congo along with several neighboring nations were embroiled in what has been termed the “African World War,” which in its duration claimed the lives of three million people. Rivals formed a transitional government in 2003, but the violence continues until this day with rebels terrorizing many mostly in the East.