The U.N. has called the Democratic Republic of Congo the "rape capital of the world," and with good reason. Sexual violence against vulnerable civilians has become a standard tactic of the combatants in a brutal civil war that has raged for more than a decade and claimed more than 5 million lives. Limited international appetite for engagement with an apparently endless horror story has dimmed media focus on Congo, although the stakes in the fighting control over reserves of gold and minerals like coltan, utilized in the production of cellular phones give the story an intimate connection to the world economy. Although accurate figures are difficult to track, leading observers, like the British charity Oxfam, say that every year, thousands of people are raped in the Kivu region. One particularly gruesome mass rape took place this August, when some 250 women and four young boys were the victims of a four-day pillage by rebels linked to the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The rapes took place in the farming area of Luvungi, 20 miles (32 km) away from a U.N. peacekeeping base.
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