Thirty-nine government soldiers accused of war crimes have gone on trial in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Most of the charges relate to the mass rape and other acts of sexual violence against more than 130 women and girls in November 2012 by a retreating army.

Correspondents say the military trial comes after months of international pressure after some officers were suspended but no soldiers tried.

The UN then threatened to stop funding army units suspected of abuses.

Armed groups in eastern DR Congo often use rape as a weapon of war.

State lawmakers have been making great strides in cracking down on child sex traffickers – and better protecting the victims.

This year, 47 states enacted 186 bills related to domestic sex trafficking of minors – the exploitation of US citizens or lawful permanent residents under 18 for prostitution, pornography, or sexual performance, according to the latest annual report by Shared Hope International, an antitrafficking group based in Vancouver, Wash.

By Jennifer Steinhauer

WASHINGTON — Reports of sexual assault in the military increased sharply during the last fiscal year, new Pentagon figures showed Wednesday, just weeks before a defense bill with provisions to tackle the problem is expected to reach the Senate floor.

 There were 3,553 sexual assault complaints reported to the Defense Department in the first three quarters of the fiscal year, from October 2012 through June, a nearly 50 percent increase over the same period a year earlier. Defense Department officials said the numbers had continued to rise.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and a team of bipartisan lawmakers kicked off a two-week push yesterday to pass the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA), an amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Act will move the decision of whether to prosecute a crime out of the chain of command and give it to independent military prosecutors.

By Jon Hamilton

Maltreatment during childhood can lead to long-term changes in brain circuits that process fear, researchers say. This could help explain why children who suffer abuse are much more likely than others to develop problems like anxiety and depression later on.

By Sasha Khokha

Even though it's a warm day in California's Salinas Valley, Maricruz Ladino looks like she's going ice fishing.

"I look like a tamale — so many layers!" she says in Spanish.

The 40-year-old farm worker wears tights, thermal underwear, two pairs of socks, a hairnet, wool cap, big boots and snow pants — clothes to keep her warm on her 10-hour shift in a walk-in cooler where she packs lettuce.

By Travis Gettys

A Florida sheriff’s deputy was fired for making inappropriate and suggestive comments to a teenage girl while investigating a sexual assault case.

Paul Martin, a 25-year veteran of the Pinellas County sheriff’s office, was fired Monday for violating department guidelines with his comments to the teen and for improperly filing his report in the case.

By Joel Rubin

Los Angeles police officials are seeking to fire two officers after an internal investigation determined that they pressured women to engage in sex acts with them in their car while on duty, sources said.

Women who experience physical, mental or sexual abuse at the hands of their partners have an increased likelihood of being food insecure. That's according to a new study out of the University of Houston Texas Obesity Research Center (TORC), which may prove valuable to those creating interventions for those populations.

By Madeleine Baran

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has been rocked in recent weeks by revelations from a top-level whistle-blower. The former official says church leaders covered up numerous cases of sexual misconduct by priests and even made special payments to pedophiles.

The scandal is notable not only because of the abuse but also because it happened in an archdiocese that claimed to be a national leader in dealing with the issue.

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