So many women have been gang-raped by soldiers or rebels in Congo’s civil war that health officials have classified severe vaginal tearing as a “combat injury.” Thousands of women are suffering from rape-induced fistula, a condition that leaves them unable to control their bodily functions. International agencies have set up clinics in Kinshasa and other major Congolese cities to treat the women, who often require three or four surgeries and weeks of intensive care. But many victims are too sick or poor to journey to the clinics. “For every one case we treat,” said Dr. David Tu of Doctors Without Borders, “there could be 30 more in the rural areas we aren’t hearing about.” Congo’s civil war, which involves six countries, has dragged on for more than five years.
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