Victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo today told a United Nations hearing about what happened to them.
The hearings, held in the central African country’s struggling eastern South Kivu region are aimed at finding better ways of helping the victims recover.
It comes after the release of a preliminary United Nations report into the mass rapes of hundreds of women and children in North Kivu two months ago.
The report charts a four-day attack on the eastern town of Luvungi, and neighbouring villages which happened just a few miles from a UN base.
UN human rights chief, Navi Pillay said the "scale and viciousness" of the attack "defied belief".
The Democratic Republic of Congo has a shocking reputation for rapes and thousands of people are raped there every year. Rape is commonly used as a weapon of war, in the country and the perpetrators are very rarely brought to justice.
But talking about the atrocities two months ago Ms Pillay said that, even for the region, the incident stood out because of how "extraordinarily cold-blooded,” it was.
The United Nations will start with victims giving testimony about their ordeal to a panel, including a doctor who specialises in treating rape victims and UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang. Then over the next10 days, the panel will visit the towns and villages affected.
In a bid to improve the treatment, support and compensation the victims, get, they will be asked about their experiences of the legal, medical or psychological services they were offered. The idea behind doing this is “to place victims of sexual abuse at the heart of discussions in order to better understand their actual needs,” a UN official told the BBC.
UN spokesperson Rupert Colville said prosecutions would be "extremely difficult".
He added that the UN hopes its report will lead to people being arrested and prosecuted, but it said that it was not easy "in this environment" and that most victims would not see any kind of justice or compensation.
Last year alone, about 8,300 rapes were reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to United Nations figures. Many more have gone unreported. The Democratic Republic of Congo has had a history of conflict and human rights abuse in the last few decades. This year, the country was given an $8 billion debt relief deal approved by World Bank and IMF, which could help smooth issues in the future.