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Peace Corps Assault Victims in Need of Ongoing Therapy Not a Good Fit For Peace Corps Service?

Posted: 2:50 am EDT

 

The Peace Corps was apparently notified mid last week about CBS This Morning’s broadcast on the sexual assaults on Peace Corps volunteers. Below via Peace Corps Worldwide:

The general feeling within in the agency–based on questions asked–is that the segment will focus on what has gone wrong overseas and CBS will not balance its reporting with the positive changed that have taken place for women since the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 took effect. The reporting will also focus on the failures of  some CDs in country to protect their Volunteers.

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The Daily Beast’s Tim Mak has more:  Whistleblower: Peace Corps Ignored and Then Blamed Sexual Assault Victims

Following the sexual assault of a Peace Corps volunteer in 2014, Peace Corps clinical psychologist Dr. Kris Morris issued behind-the-scenes “guidelines.” The message: Volunteers who continue to need help following a sexual assault are not Peace Corps material.

“Demonstration of a need for ongoing therapy is an indication that she is not a good fit for Peace Corps Service,” Morris wrote in a September 2014 email. Morris also said that a “maximum of 4-6 sessions” of counseling abroad would be permitted for the victim once she returned to her post following a medical

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Of related note, the Peace Corps OIG has been battling access to records with its own agency:

Peace Corps OIG’s access issues stem from a sensitive and important subject: the Peace Corps’ handling of volunteer reports of sexual assault. OIG’s push for access is about fulfilling its collective responsibility to ensure that Congress, the Peace Corps, and OIG does everything possible to ensure volunteers – who sacrifice so much when serving in remote corners of the world – receive the services they need and the response they deserve from the agency when they are victims of a sexual assault.

The agency’s basis for the denial of information is a legal opinion by the former Peace Corps general counsel that the Kate Puzey Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 overrides the IG’s right of access under the IG Act. OIG’s access issue has led to three congressional hearings, extensive press coverage, a hold being placed on the nomination of the Director, and, ultimately, the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the agency and OIG, which resulted in access to more, but not all, of the information.

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It is not a coincidence that on the same day that these reports dropped, Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet also penned A journey of reform on the agency’s blog. How much of a culture change has occurred if volunteers who continue to need help following a sexual assault are considered not Peace Corps material?

Together, we have achieved extraordinary progress, seeing nothing short of a culture change that reflects our dedication to Volunteers and our commitment to a response that is victim–centered and consistent with our nation’s best practice. Our record of agency reform reflects that progress.

And because it’s 2015, there’s this:

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One response

  1. The ongoing effort to weaken and restrict access of IGs amazes me. Is Congress likely to do anything? Strange that this administration has been less transparent than the Rs. And has deported more people, and prosecuted more for whistleblowing and/or leaks. Ironic.

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