Court martial sentenced the 39 Congolese soldiers on counts of rape and murder committed in the course of the 2012 military offensive in North Kivu province.
Court martial sentenced the 39 Congolese soldiers on counts of rape and murder committed in the course of the 2012 military offensive in North Kivu province.Reuters

The latest technology in smartphones could help doctors to document sexual assault and rape in war zones.

New technology developed by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) allows medical teams to use the app MediCapt to photograph sexual assault victims' injuries and add medical examination results to an online database.

The app is being tested in the Democratic Republic of Congo to help law officials look through the database's cloud and build cases against perpetrators of sexual violence.

The app is still in development and there are plans to increase its use to other regions of violent conflict worldwide.

According to a United Nations report, dozens of women are raped or sexually assaulted in the Congo every hour. In July 2013, the UN stated that over 700 cases of sexual violence in the Congo's northern region.

For each case, doctors will use the app to fill out a digital medical form with information such as which parts of the body show signs of assault, photographs of any injuries, whether the victim was pregnant or tested positive for a sexually transmitted disease.

Other information includes data on the perpetrator – if they carried weapons, what language they spoke or belonged to a militia group.

By encouraging medical teams to record and document cases of sexual violence via MediCapt, which are then stored on a central database, PHR hopes more cases will be prosecuted.

Doctors in Nukavu, on the border with Rwanda, started training in January, each receiving an Android phone and instructions on how to use it.

"What was most useful was introducing clinicians to the promise and power of technology as a means for gathering evidence and prosecuting these crimes," Karen Naimer, PHR's Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones told ThinkProgress.

"Some of them had never even held a smartphone before, but by the end of the first day everyone was engaged in the idea of the power this technology could bring."

MediCapt was developed by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), a non-profit organisation based in New York City.

The International Criminal Court recently announced its intention to place greater emphasis on rape and other forms of sexual assault in war zones as crimes against humanity.