Monday, April 11, 2011

The University of Michigan's The Michigan Review article on Sexual Assault in Peace Corps

Peace Corps Under Fire by Eden Stiffman on April 8, 2011

Amid the celebrations of 50 years of international service, the Peace Corps has been in the spotlight for a far less laudatory record.

Following an ABC News “20/20” report in January, in which volunteers who survived rape or sexual assault while serving in the Peace Corps expressed dissatisfaction over the support they received, the agency has been under fire.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing, likely in May, to examine the Peace Corps’ treatment of volunteers who have been victims of rape or sexual assault while serving abroad.

The issue caught the attention of Representative Ted Poe (R-Texas), founder and co-chair of the bipartisan Victims’ Rights Caucus who, citing the report, first spoke on the House floor about the issue in late January.

In an interview with THE MICHIGAN REVIEW, Poe said he hopes to “find out what has happened to victims of crime, why crimes are committed against them, and what the response has been from our federal government, if any.”

In the last decade, over 1000 female volunteers have been victims of rape or sexual assault, including 221 rapes or attempted rapes, 147 major sexual attacks, and 719 other sexual assaults, according to Peace Corps’ Annual Reports of Volunteer Safety.

Casey Frazee, a graduate of Eastern Michigan University, is one of these assault survivors. In 2009, Frazee was placed in South Africa where she volunteered at an HIV/AIDS clinic. Soon after arriving, she was assaulted by the brother of her host mother, a man who was also dating one of her co-workers at the clinic.

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*Editor's Note: While campaigning for President of the United States in 1960, John F Kennedy made an early morning stop at the University of Michigan student union where he essentially announced the idea for Peace Corps. More at:

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