Posted: 12:57 am ET
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We’ve written about nine blogposts on sexual assaults and/or lack of clear sexual assault reporting guidance in the Foreign Service since August this year (see links below). On November 22, the State Department finally directed a task force to create a new section in the Foreign Affairs Manual for sexual assault (see U/S For Management Directs Task Force to Create New Sexual Assault FAM Guidance).
Mindful that there are 35 days to go before a new administration takes office, we requested an update on the task force convened by “M” to craft the sexual assault guidance in the FAM.
A State Department spox sent us the following:
“The Department is committed to the work the taskforce is doing to create a sexual assault section for the FAM, work that will continue past inauguration day. Currently, the Department has policies and procedures relating to sexual harassment and workplace violence. Employees and their family members can receive assistance and advice from MED, DS and S/OCR on these issues.
The taskforce is initially focused on establishing FAM definitions and will then build out the program, communications and training. The group has met with Peace Corps and will soon meet with DOD to understand what each has done on this issue. Both of those agencies dedicated several years to building their programs.
The taskforce includes members from MED, HR/ER and HR/DGHR, M staff and M/PRI, DS/DO/OSI and DS front office, S/OCR, and L. The group has also heard from a number of diplomatic community members at post who were eager to contribute ideas and offer feedback throughout the process. The group welcomes this contribution and feedback.”
So 35 days to go but we already know that the new guidance will not be ready until after January 20. We are pleased to hear that the taskforce is consulting with both DOD and Peace Corps who each has its separate reporting mechanism. We are certain that the bureaucracy will continue to grind despite the transition but we do not want this to fall through the cracks. If you are a member of the Foreign Service who provided feedback to this taskforce, and if you are a member of the FS community who considers an assault on one as an assault on all, you’ve got to keep asking until this gets done.
The Department’s Anti-Harassment Program is managed by the S/OCR, an office that reports directly to the Secretary of State. It conducts inquiries into allegations of sexual and discriminatory harassment in the Department. It is not the appropriate office to handle sexual assault crimes. To initiate the EEO complaint process, regulations require that employees contact S/OCR or an EEO counselor within 45 calendar days of the alleged discriminatory act in order to preserve the right to file a formal complaint of discrimination with S/OCR. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Department’s policy on workplace violence is governed by 3 FAM 4150, last updated in April 2012.
Under Employees’ Responsibilities, the FAM provides the following guidance:
In the event of an immediately threatening or violent situation, all Department of State employees should:
(1) If the incident takes place in the United States, call 911 when there is an injury or an immediate risk of injury in the workplace;
(2) Alert the appropriate law enforcement or security office at his or her location when there is risk to his or her safety or the safety of others, injury, or immediate risk of injury. In the Washington, DC area dial extension 7-9111 or the appropriate telephone number for the law enforcement or security office at his or her location;
(3) Immediately report threatening or violent behavior to supervisors after securing emergency medical assistance as needed;
(4) Move to a safe area away from the individual(s) making threats or exhibiting violent behavior. Do not confront the individual or individual(s); and
(5) Take all threats and acts of violence seriously.
A close reading of this section on workplace violence, makes one think that perhaps the drafters were thinking of an employee “going postal”. This certainly provides no guidance for victims of sexual assault. “Take all threats and acts of violence seriously,” of course, doesn’t make sense when one contemplates about a colleague who is also a rapist. It’s important to note that approximately 3 out of 4 of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim; that “friend” or “buddy” is not going to threaten you that he’s going to assault or rape you before he commits the crime.
The workplace violence section has more guidance on what to do with an employee exhibiting violent behavior than what to do with the victims. Immediate actions recommended include review of “whether an independent medical exam should be offered” to the violent employee. Short-term and long-term responses include administrative leave; counseling from supervisor or higher management official; appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including separation; curtailment; and/or medical evacuation. All focused on the perpetrator of workplace violence.
Yes, the Department has policies and procedures relating to sexual harassment and workplace violence; and you can see that they are sorely lacking when it comes to addressing sexual assaults.
Sexual Assault Related posts:
- From Someone Who Has Unfortunately Been There: Sexual Assault Trauma Triage in the Foreign Service Nov 23, 2016
- U/S For Management Directs Task Force to Create New Sexual Assault FAM Guidance) Nov 22, 2016
- A Sexual Assault Reporting Process Foreign Service Members Deserve: If Not Now, When? Attn: @JohnKerryNovember 22, 2016
- First Person: I am a ✂️ FSO who was ✂️ raped in ✂️… Continuing on has been ✂️ incredibly difficult…November 21, 2016
- First Person: I did everything right. I filed a report the next business day … #FSassaultNovember 22, 2016
- Sexual Assault in the Foreign Service — What To Do?November 18, 2016
- Another Note About the Burn Bag–There’s No Easy Way of Doing This, Is There? Nov 13, 2016
- OPM: Guidance For Agency-Specific Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking Policies Nov 21, 2016
- The State Dept’s Sexual Assault Reporting Procedure Appears to Be a Black Hole of Grief Sept 21, 2016
- Sexual Assault at a State Dept-Leased Apartment: If This Isn’t Abysmal Failure, What Is It? Sept 2016
- A Joke That Wasn’t, and a State Department Dialogue That Is Long Overdue Aug 2016
- Peace Corps Assault Victims in Need of Ongoing Therapy Not a Good Fit For Peace Corps Service? Dec 2015
- Ex-State Dept Employee Settles Housekeeper’s Claim Over Slavery and Rape Sept 2015
- State Dept Security Officer Alleged Sexual Misconduct: Spans 10 Years, 7 Posts Oct 2014
- Foreign Service Specialist Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for Traveling to Engage in Illicit Sexual Conduct Aug 2013
- Court Awards $3.3 Million Default Judgment Against State Dept Couple Accused of Slavery and Rape of Housekeeper Sept 2012
- Former CIA Station Chief to Algeria Gets 65 Months for Sexual Assault on Embassy Property March 2011
- What happens when America’s ambassadors of hope and compassion return home as victims of rape and institutional neglect? May 2011