An analysis has found that over 400,000 women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had experienced rape in a 12-month period in 2006 and 2007.
A new study based on examination of government-collected and nationally representative data from Congo showed that levels of rape and sexual violence against women in the country are 26 times higher than official United Nations estimates.
Dr. Tia M. Palermo, Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine, Graduate Program in Public Health, and colleagues, found in their analysis that 1,152 women are raped every day, 48 raped are every hour, or four women are raped every five minutes.
"These estimates of the incidence of rape are 26 times higher than the 15,000 reported by the United Nations for the DRC in 2010," said Dr. Palermo.
"The shockingly high number is also seven times higher than the estimated 57,000 women raped during Sierra Leone's entire 10-year conflict," Dr. Palermo added.
Sexual violence occurred in all of the country's provinces, the study shows, while the number of women raped during a 12-month period in the eastern conflict area of North Kivu - 67 per 1,000, is more than double the national average of 29 per 1,000.
These estimates demonstrate that the level of sexual violence is both magnitudes higher and more geographically dispersed than previously estimated.
Compared to women in the US, where the Department of Justice estimates that 0.5 women are raped per 1,000 women aged 12 and up annually, this analysis shows that women in the DRC are 58 more times to be raped annually.
The authors of the report suggest that their findings point to the need for a stronger policy response to curb sexual violence in the DRC.
The results also highlight the importance of the need for interventions cutting across geographic regions and socioeconomic levels.
The study, spearheaded by The Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research, Medicine, has been published in the American Journal of Public Health.