Reports of mass rape as a weapon of war have been common in Congo for years, but a new survey shows the problem to be far worse than thought. An estimated 1,152 women are raped every day, or 48 per hour, according to a study to appear in the American Journal of Public Health. That's 26 times higher than a previous UN estimate. "The numbers are astounding," says a Johns Hopkins expert.
In one particularly war-ravaged part of the country, 67 out of every 1,000 women have been raped at least once. By comparison, the annual rate in the US is 0.5 per 1,000. "The message is important and clear: Rape in (Congo) has metastasized amid a climate of impunity, and has emerged as one of the great human crises of our time," says the director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.