A U.N. investigator says sexual violence against women has become rampant and increasingly brutal in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a report Monday, Turkish lawyer Yakin Erturk says the situation in Congo's South Kivu province is the worst she has ever seen in four years as the world body's special investigator for violence against women.

Erturk, who just finished an 11-day visit to Congo, says armed groups in the province gang-rape women in front of their families, and force men at gunpoint to rape their mothers, sisters, and daughters.

She says after being raped, many victims are shot or stabbed in their genitals.

Erturk says state authorities have done little to stop the violence and sometimes respond to civil unrest with armed reprisals that involve pillage, torture and mass rape.

There was no immediate response to the report by Congolese officials.

Erturk added in her report that many people in eastern Congo appear to accept violence against women as normal.

Congo's five-year civil war officially ended in 2003 but militias continue to operate and battle government troops in the country's east.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.