UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Sexual violence perpetrated against women and children extends beyond Africa as a "cheap" weapon of war, a U.N. special envoy on sexual violence said.
The United Nations says that while conflicts are changing, civilians continue to suffer the most during wars. Women and children are often the greatest victims as militants turn to sexual violence as a way to wield power over vulnerable communities.
Margot Wallstrom, the U.N. special envoy for sexual violence, told the U.N. news center that sexual violence not only degraded women but sent a message to men that they have no control.
"It is unfortunately a very effective, cheap and silent weapon with a long-lasting effect on society," she said.
Wallstrom sounded the alarm bells when it emerged that hundreds of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo were gang raped over the course of a few days during the summer.
The U.N. Population Fund estimated that at least 8,000 women were raped on the Congo during conflicts in 2009.
Wallstrom noted that while the Congolese atrocities were stealing most of the headlines, rape as a weapon of war extended across Central Asia and Latin America as well.
"It's not only Africa," she said.