Armed men on Monday disrupted the start of final year exams in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Sud-Kivu province, officials in the country say.
Conflicting reports say the armed men raped some of the students who were gathered at an exam centre in a town near a border Congo shared with South Sudan. But a government spokesperson, Felicien Nangana, confirms that only one schoolgirl was raped.
Militiamen raping their female victims are not uncommon in Congo. In 2017, some members of an armed group were sentenced to life imprisonment over the rape of 40 children.
Reports said the crime was committed between 2013 and 2016, and the victims aged between eight months and 12 years old.
The convictions included a member of parliament, Frederic Batumike, who is believed to be the leader of the gang.
Earlier in April 2019, a powerful rebel leader in the country, Masudi Alimasi Kokodiko, was arrested by the army.
Masudi Alimasi Kokodiko, leader of the widely feared Raia Mutomboki militia, was accused of orchestrating mass rapes and using child soldiers.
A 2018 report by a U.N. Security Council panel of experts alleged that Kokodiko’s forces had gang-raped at least 17 women in the town of Lubila.
On Wednesday, 26 August 2020, news outlets reported that 21 soldiers and policemen had been charged to court for the alleged rape of 23 DR Congolese women.
The accused were said to have committed the crimes sometime this year in the Ruzizi plain between Bukavu and Uvira, a region destabilised by armed groups and banditry.
The women, who came together to launch a joint civil suit, are being supported by a Congolese gynaecologist, Denis Mukwege, and his Panzi Foundation.
Denis Mukwege won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in reconstructive surgery for female victims of sexual violence on the sidelines of the armed conflicts that have destabilised the Kivu region for nearly 30 years.
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