Sunday, January 17, 2010

One Big Step in This Journey of a Thousand Miles

I am proud to announce that an article I wrote for the National Peace Corps Association has been published in their recent quarterly magazine, WorldView. The magazine's audience is primarily Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs). WorldView reaches RPCVs from the early 1960s, when the program began, up to volunteers who are returning now.

The article outlines that 3% of Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) are affected by sexual assualt, rape, violent crime and death threats. It's difficult to have discussions where rape and death threats are at the forefront, but it has not been addressed to the satisfaction of many volunteer survivors. The 2007 Safety of the Volunteer reports that these types of crime have been on the rise 7% year over year for the last ten years. Yet, nothing has been done and PCVs continue to experience assaults and threats. I believe we can find a better way to manage this.

As with many sexual assaults in the United States, my assault was perpetrated by someone in the community who I knew. Below is an excerpt regarding community safety taken from the article I wrote for WorldView magazine.

Earlier this year, while serving in Southern Africa, I was sexually assaulted by a man in my community. The Peace Corps Web site states, “The agency recognizes that Volunteers' daily safety is, for the most part, best assured when they are well integrated into the local community, valued and protected as extended family members.” Unfortunately, this system has a major flaw—when the attacker is also a well-integrated community member.

My attacker was the brother of my host mother and the boyfriend of a co-worker at the NGO where I worked. Furthermore, he was a high-ranking official in the provincial branch of the country’s reigning political party. Going to the local authorities in the aftermath of the assault did not seem a safe option, as I feared retribution from my attacker.


The entire article should be available online soon. At this time, I am unable to upload the article to my blog to make it available for download. Please email firstresponseaction@gmail.com if you would like me to forward you a PDF of the article. (I am also in need of someone who is more technologically savvy than me to take this blog to the next level. I welcome anyone who is interesting in donating some of their technological skills to this important cause.)

If you would like to pledge your support - which can also be anonymous - please reply to this post or email me at firstresponseaction@gmail.com.

Thank you to all of you who have supported this important cause thus far. Your support and strength keep this (and me) going! The publishing of this article is another big step in this journey of a thousand miles and I thank you for taking these first steps with me!

I also extend my gratitude to Erica Burman at the National Peace Corps Association who thought enough about this issue to give it a wider audience. Thank you Erica. I am so appreciative.

Peace and Strength.

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