A followup to my blog from back in January, Peace Corps must better address assaults and murders of members, which talked about the USA television network 20/20 piece about women Peace Corps members who were sexually-assaulted while serving abroad, and how these women’s needs both before and after these crimes were not addressed by the Peace Corps. You can view the interviews with some of these former Peace Corps members here. 20/20 also did a profile of a slain Peace Corps volunteer, Kate Puzey, who was murdered after the Peace Corps leaked her name to a suspect she had accused of sexually abusing children. You can view part of the story here.
Among the women interviewed on the program was Casey Frazee, whose story and request for change were first published in the Winter 2009 issue of the National Peace Corps Association’s (NPCA) WorldView magazine. A follow-up blog post was published in September 2010. She formed an ad hoc group, First Response Action (FRA), that “advocates for a stronger Peace Corps response for Volunteers who are survivors or victims of physical and sexual violence.” The group envisions “a Peace Corps with policies that reflect best practices in all areas of training, prevention and response.” FRA is currently conducting a survey of current and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers about their experiences during sexual assault training in the Peace Corps.
NPCA also offers the following information about Peace Corps Resources on Safety and Security:
If you have experienced sexual assault or safety and security issues during your Peace Corps service, here are some resources from the Agency:
- As noted on the Peace Corps website, Peace Corps works in some of the least developed countries and in some of the most remote areas in the world, therefore health, safety, and security risks are an unavoidable part of life and of Volunteer service. Peace Corps has gathered the key points about Volunteer safety and security on the following website page: Safety and Security in Depth for Family and Friends.
- Each year the Peace Corps Office of Safety and Security issues an Annual Volunteer Safety Report. The latest report is for 2009, dated December 2010 (Volume 11). Download the 2009 Annual Volunteer Safety Report
- Although the Peace Corps is not authorized by law to provide medical care or counseling to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, all Volunteers who leave Peace Corps service after having been the victims of sexual assault are eligible for counseling under the Federal Employees Compensation Action (FECA), the workman’s compensation program for federal employees, under which Peace Corps Volunteers are covered. Peace Corps offers three counseling sessions following sexual assault to serve as a bridge for Volunteers until they can arrange counseling under FECA, with the cost paid by the Peace Corps, not the Volunteer. FECA is administered by the Department of Labor. Full information on FECA can be found here on the Peace Corps website.
I’m going to continue to monitor how Peace Corps responds to complaints about the safety of its members, particularly women, and continue to post updates here on my blog. To be fair, such information is not available about other volunteer sending organizations, at least than I can find. If you have a heads up about such information, please let me know.