Saturday, June 4, 2011

Peace Corps Strengthens Relationship with First Response Action

When First Response Action members met with Peace Corps staff in D.C. on May 9th, they informed us that they have created a Peace Corps’ Volunteer Sexual Assault Panel, currently managed by the Senior Advisor to the newly-created Peace Corps Sexual Assault Working Group.

The purpose of the panel is to...

...obtain the advice of outside experts and returned Peace Corps Volunteers on the design and implementation of Peace Corps’ global sexual assault risk reduction and response strategies.

This panel sounds familiar to a group that First Response Action has been advocating for to oversee the issue of sexual violence in Peace Corps, although the scope of the group's purpose varies slightly.

First Response Action advocates for Peace Corps to have an advisory council that is overseen by Congress which would be comprised of Volunteers who were victimized during their service, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers with expertise in sexual assault services and other experts in the field. It is First Response Action's position that Sexual Assault Advisory Council members should not be paid Peace Corps staff, although the Council will certainly work in collaboration with staff. First Response Action recommends that the Sexual Assault Advisory Council convene quarterly or twice yearly. The Sexual Assault Advisory Council should utilize the experiences and skills of members by reviewing all protocol, policy, training and services related to sexual assault, stalking and intimate partner violence. The Council will also be able to make recommendations based on innovations in the field as well as how previous cases were handled.

We are pleased to announce that Peace Corps has invited a member of First Response Action to join the panel! First Response Action member and Program Manager at the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Karen Moldovan, has been appointed by the First Response Action board to serve as our representative. The panel has yet to convene, but First Response Action is thankful for the opportunity to continue working together with Peace Corps for policies and procedures that benefit and support victims of sexual and physical violence.

Karen met with members of the Sexual Assault Working Group, including Kellie Green the new Victim Advocate for Peace Corps, while attending the SANE-SART conference in May in Austin, TX to discuss the partnership. Other Peace Corps staff at the conference included medical services staff member Kim Skrtic and security staff member David Fleisig.

First Response Action is pleased to continue this positive working relationship with Peace Corps towards constructive change!

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