BUKAVU, Democratic Republic of Congo, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Officials with UNICEF said they saw a direct correlation between a lack of education and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
UNICEF said sexual violence is prevalent across much of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rape is often used as a weapon of war, though UNICEF said sexual violence is present in all parts of society.
Ibrahim Balingene, who coordinates a mobile clinic for victims of sexual violence, said poverty is a leading reason for the persistence of sexual abuse.
"Lack of education has a direct link to mutual disrespect," he said in a statement.
The assessment comes as British Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham welcomed Margot Wallstrom, the U.N. special envoy for sexual violence in conflict, to London.
Wallstrom during her visit is to discuss violence against women and girls during talks with Home Office officials, the British government said.
The United Nations reported about 15,000 women were raped in the eastern part of the DRC in 2009 and said it was believed the number is probably higher because many cases go unreported.
Wallstrom in a statement earlier this month said the Congolese government was expected to bring the perpetrators of mass rapes in the country to justice.
The U.N. Security Council in December froze the assets and banned travel for Congolese Col. Innocent Zimurinda for allegedly recruiting child soldiers, orchestrating mass rapes, summary executions of child soldiers and general human-rights abuses.