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18-month old girls stolen from home and raped

Girls as young as 18 months are stolen from their homes at night, raped and left with horrific injuries.

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The Democratic Republic of Congo has witnessed an increase in the rape of young girls, with some as young as 18-months.

According to Reuters, girls as young as 18 months are stolen from their homes at night, raped and left with horrific injuries.

Many of the victims, who are less than 5, have been treated at the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, South Kivu province, which has helped thousands of women and girls raped during 15 years of conflict in eastern DRC.

The executive director of Panzi Foundation USA, Naama Haviv said 34 infants and young girls from Kavumu had been treated at the hospital in the last two years.

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According to him, while violence against women in Congo isn't new, what is different is the fact that it is centered in one community and seems to be target specifically at children.

"The perpetrators are breaking into the homes at night and stealing away the girls, violating them sometimes over a number of days, sometimes just that night, and often times returning the children to their homes and to their parents,"

She however said it was not clear who was behind the attacks or what was driving the violence.

An outcry over the horrific incident prompted medical staff, lawyers, teachers, non-governmental groups and the parents of victims to meet at Panzi Hospital at the weekend, with parents refusing to keep their privacy and opting to let people know what is going on.

Photos of some of the victims which was shared by the chief of pediatrics at the hospital revealed that the bodies of the children had been destroyed.

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The presidential adviser on sexual violence in Congo, Jeanine Mabunda called for courts to be set up where rape had taken place, saying "justice should be brought to the victim's door."

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