New York- US (PANA) -- New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said hundreds of w omen in Cote d'Ivoire are being gang-raped in recent times.
The rights group made this known in a statement to herald the release of a 72-pa ge report on the Situation in Cote d'Ivoire.
It accused the authorities of failing to respond, prosecute and punish parties r esponsible for mass rapes in the country, stressing that its investigations reve a led that, "at least 20 women and girls were raped by bandits in one day in Janua r y 2009.
" The group also stated that, "while it documented 109 case of rape in the west of the country since then, the number is likely much higher because of the stigma a ssociated with reporting sexual violence.
" Bandits, the report said, "routinely set up checkpoints, pulled women from their vehicles and raped them, while others stood guard.
"While politicians and foreign diplomats have wrangled over election preparation s, residents in western Cote d'Ivoire are consumed by fear of violent robbery or of being pulled from a bus and raped," Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researc h er for Human Rights Watch, was quoted as saying.
The report, however, came as the authorities in Cote d'Ivoire received modest pr aise from the UN for its preparations ahead of a long-delayed presidential elect i on at the end of the month.