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Religious activists in DRC 'raped by government agents'
03 June 2014 16:30 by Liz Dodd

Government agents in the Democratic Republic of Congo rape and sexually abuse women in religious organisations to punish them for being politically active, the charity Freedom from Torture has revealed.

In a report released ahead of a major international summit in London on preventing sexual violence, Freedom from Torture said that rape was used as torture by prison and security officers outside conflict zones and went unacknowledged and unpunished.

“Many of the women we treat were originally arrested because of their charity and human rights work - and many are affiliated with religious organisations,” a spokeswoman said.

The report Rape as Torture in the DRC analysed evidence from 34 medical reports and found that all but one woman had been raped multiple times and that all the women had also been burnt or cut with knives. The majority of the women identified as Christian (29 out of the 34) most of whom were Catholic and one Protestant.

The DRC has signed up to the Protocol on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict to be launched by the UK Government this week. But the charity said that it could not be relied upon to tackle the situation.

The international community must acknowledge that rape as torture takes place outside conflict zones in many countries, it added, and should recognise this in asylum policies.

Above: Women, many of them victims of sexual violence, listen to a talk at Panzi hospital in Bukavu, South Kivu province, in eastern Congo. Photo: CNS photo/Reuters/Newscom