Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Legacy: Kate Finn's Board Editorial

The following blog post is from First Response Action board member Kate Finn, who served in Costa Rica, about her thoughts on the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act legislation passing the House and being sent to President Obama. Kate has supported this campaign as the Legislative Liaison collaborating with various legislative allies. She has also bravely told her own story as a survivor and has been instrumental to the forward movement of this campaign.

Wow. CSPAN has never been more interesting! Watching the Congressional votes post on Nov. 1 was an incredible reminder to me of the time and effort that it has taken to create awareness surrounding Volunteers who are victims and survivors of sexual violence during their time of service as Peace Corps Volunteers.

For me, serving on the Board of First Response Action has been a remarkable experience both personally and professionally. After I was raped during my time of service, I really did believe that it was just my country that messed up the response. I knew intuitively that I wasn't the only Volunteer that this had happened to, but I certainly felt alone. I learned about FRA and was immediately released from that sense of isolation. I am humbled to have joined a board that worked so hard to examine the individual experiences of survivors, like myself, and translate those experiences into meaningful policy change. This board has truly connected the experiences of men and women with this legislation, and I know that when enacted, this legislation will have a profound positive impact for Volunteers on the ground.

I think we would be remiss to not mention that we are not the first group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to bring up this issue. We know several people, often survivors of crime, that have told their stories since the 1980s to effect change. Carol Clark has been telling her story since the 1980s and I have learned a lot from her perseverance, humility and kindness. She has been pursuing improved services for Volunteers who experience sexual violence for years and we could not have achieved this success without her. We have put in a lot of work, but in many ways I feel that we were able to "tip the scale" only because of the work of so many courageous women before us.

It is impossible for me to not mention Kate Puzey. We know that in her life she was a fierce champion for women and girl's rights. I hope that her legacy lives on in this legislation as more women are able to find peace and well-being after surviving sexual violence.


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