Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, has dispatched a senior aide to the Democratic Republic of Congo following reports of mass rapes during a four-day rebel siege of an eastern township.

Aid groups were reported as saying that nearly 200 women were sexually assaulted in recent weeks by rebels within miles of a UN peacekeepers' base in North Kivu province.

One aid group said many of the women were gang-raped by between two and six armed men.

According to UN figures, at least 154 civilians were raped and assaulted by rebels from the Mai Mai militia and Rwandan Hutu FDLR who occupied the town of Luvungi from July 30 to August 3.

The UN has said that more than 8,000 women were raped in eastern DR Congo last year alone.

On this episode of Inside Story we look at how the use of sexual violence has evolved in the region and ask what can be done to stop it.

Presenter Jane Dutton is joined by guests: Maya Mailer, a policy adviser at Oxfam; Colin Thomas Jensen, a DR Congo analyst; and Jacques Bahat, a policy adviser at the Africa Faith and Justice Network.

This episode of Inside Story aired on Tuesday, August 24, 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera