Sex 'beyond rape'

Sexual atrocities in Congo's volatile province of South Kivu extend "far beyond rape", and include sexual slavery, forced incest and cannibalism, a UN human rights expert said yesterday.

Yakin Erturk called the situation in South Kivu the worst she had seen in four years as the global body's special investigator for violence against women.

The worst abuses have been committed by rebel groups, many of whom fled to Congo after taking part in the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s, said Erturk, who last week ended an 11-day mission to the country.

"The atrocities perpetrated by these armed groups are of unimaginable brutality that goes far beyond rape. Women are brutally gang-raped, often in front of their families and communities. In numerous cases, male relatives are forced at gun point to rape their own daughters, mothers or sisters.

"Frequently women are shot or stabbed in their genitals, after being raped. Women, who survived months of enslavement, told me that their tormentors had forced them to eat excrement or the human flesh of murdered relatives," she said in statement.

Erturk said the situation in the country was "alarming and requires immediate attention".

"Violence against women seems to be perceived by large sectors of society to be normal," she said. - Sapa-AP

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