In the last 20 years, Peace Corps Volunteers reported over 1,600 incidents of sexual assault, with more than 1,000 of these reports taking place in the past 10 years according to the Peace Corps own data.
In an in-depth investigative story in USA Today on sexual assault within the Peace Corps written on April 22, 2021, Rep. Wagner said, “Tragically, one out of every three Volunteers who finished service in 2019 reported experiencing a sexual assault; Volunteers have also reported a hesitancy to describe these cases to the Peace Corps due to fear of retaliation or criticism. This is devastating.”
Tragically, one out of every three Volunteers who finished service in 2019 reported experiencing a sexual assault
It’s time for reform.
The Peace Corps, which hasn’t been reauthorized in over 20 years, saw the passing of the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2022 (H.R. 1456), bipartisan legislation introduced by Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Representative John Garamendi (D-CA) and fellow Representative Garret Graves (R-LA) by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 30th, 2022. This marked a major step toward preventing and eliminating sexual abuse within the organization.
The Act includes improvements to the Peace Corps’ Sexual Assault Advisory Council, along with other improvements to prevent sexual abuse including investments in new staff positions, including a prevention specialist; conducting an audit to account for existing agency prevention elements; additional reporting and monitoring systems; resources aimed at ensuring trauma-informed programming and responses to sexual violence; and mechanisms to strengthen accountability to the agency’s many stakeholders.
As the bill moves to the House, you can help push this reform, and protect the Peace Corps volunteers, by writing to your members of Congress today to ask them to support and pass this legislation this year.