August 3, 2002 - New York Times: Attacks on Peace Corps Volunteers Found Rising

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By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, August 04, 2002 - 12:17 pm: Edit Post

Attacks on Peace Corps Volunteers Found Rising

Read and comment on this story from the New York Times on Safety and Security of Peace Corps Volunteers in the field at:

Attacks on Peace Corps Volunteers Found Rising*

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Attacks on Peace Corps Volunteers Found Rising


WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 Reported assaults on Peace Corps volunteers abroad more than doubled over the last decade, and organizational problems in the agency may be limiting its ability to ensure volunteers' safety, a study by the General Accounting Office has found.

President Bush has proposed doubling the size of the Peace Corps, to 15,000 volunteers, and expanding its presence to dangerous countries, including Afghanistan.

Critics say that since Sept. 11 Americans abroad face increased risks and that expanding the Peace Corps presence might put volunteers in harm's way.

"I've been to Afghanistan, and it's a dangerous place for a young person," said Representative Martin T. Meehan, Democrat of Massachusetts, who requested the accounting office report after a volunteer from his district, Walter J. Poirier, 22, of Lowell, disappeared in February 2001. Mr. Poirier was working on a tourism project in the Zongo Valley in Bolivia, three hours from La Paz.

Four volunteers have been killed since 1997.

In a letter to Mr. Meehan last year, Robert H. Hast, managing director of the G.A.O.'s Office of Special Investigations, said although Mr. Poirier had failed to follow procedures for new volunteers, apparently failing to register his housing arrangements, the Peace Corps associate director in the region had essentially "lost track" of him.

Incidents of "major physical assault" on volunteers, attacks with weapons or injuries, rose to 17 per 1,000 in 2000, up from 8 in 1991, the report said. In addition, "major sexual assaults," including rape, fluctuated in that period, with a high of 12 in 1997 and a low of 8 in 1995.

Peace Corps officials attribute some of the increase in reported assaults to more reliable data collection. They say the agency began new safety measures last year, including adding security officers and improved training.

The full extent of violence against volunteers may be significantly higher because many crimes go unreported, the report said. The report suggested that organizational problems in the Peace Corps were most likely worsening the problem. A five-year employment limit for supervisors, intended to keep the agency innovative, has resulted in "a situation in which the agency staff are continually `reinventing the wheel,' " the report said.

The report also found that directors in the 70 or so nations that have invited the Peace Corps were largely autonomous, complicating the task of keeping tabs on volunteers and ensuring safety. Most volunteers, Peace Corps officials said, are in isolated locations.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Special Reports; Peace Corps - Safety and Security



By scaredtodeath ( - on Friday, October 24, 2003 - 10:12 pm: Edit Post

I have been employed at Peace Corps headquarters and can say with certainty that no Volunteer is safe in the field, because no one can vouch for the safety of an employee even at Headquarters. I was stalked by a female staff member in the Office of the Inspector General who had been told by her boss that any sexual approaches she made towards me would be okay "as long as no one saw her." I am a female, and was not interested in the numerous requests for a date that this female auditor in the OIG offered. She nevertheless approached me in a darkened kitchen early one morning and attempted to grope or strangle me perhaps, from behind(I never was sure what her intent was). The woman continued in her approaches and her boss and agency asserted that there had been no improper conduct because they transferred me to another work unit. Subsequently, the Gay/Lesbian contingent, which is the predominant culture in the Agency at headquarters, maliciously and with vengeance sought to drive me out of the workplace. There were near ambush scenarios, and at length, my supervisor (another former member of the staff of the Inspector General and her Director, another member of the dominant, violent lesbian subculture at the Agency) arranged for a staff member in my new work unit to cut up my coat and hat one afternoon. When I asked for intervention from the female supervisor, she did not respond. I ultimately had to call in the Federal Protective Service officers (police) who were puzzled by the lack of response from the two female managers, one of whom is the wife of a Congressman from Connecticut. The agency can never hope to keep anyone in the field safe because the basic nature of the people who are on staff at headquarters is dominated by an overtly agressive and violent management which is bent on petty criminal behavior. There is no safety for anyone at headquarters, therefore there can be no guarantee of safety for those in the field because the management is too busy entertaining itself with its sexual predilictions to perform the functions of their duties with regard to support and protection of the Volunteers in the field. In short, there are many mentally unstable women and men whose main concerns are who they can entice into sexual liaisons and whose lives are emotional shipwrecks -- these are the people running the show from D.C. and by default, since they hire those who run the posts in country, are also the same ones responsible for the neglect of the safety of the Volunteers in the field.

By ( - on Saturday, October 25, 2003 - 11:11 am: Edit Post

You said, there are many who try to "entice into sexual liaisons and whose lives are emotional shipwrecks". This is not the case for everyone at Peace Corps, but I would agree their is a population of folks whose lives are emotional shipwrecks and are making decisions over volunteer careers and staff careers. There is "no" oversight for these type of behaviors and unjust actions. Who are you going to complain to Charles Smith, the Inspector General or his sucessor? If you do, perhaps he or she will make your life more miserable. Sounds like they already have?

This is why we need a Conflict and Management forum with an attorney reprsenting volunteers and employees at Peace Corps. In my particular case, I had a medical nurse who had just come off a nasty divorce, she was shaken and angry about it, rightfully so, but she took her anger out on my file. She wrote untrue statements,statements of possible liable, out of contecxt information all over my file, possible slander,and malicious comments. These bogus comments were used to separate me from service. They are still the bogus words that keep me from servicing again, getting federal position with security clearance, and a job in development in general. The words were used to destroy any credibility of reporting a security concern at my site. In many cases, this has happened to other volunteers and employees.

I have forgive her in my own mind. Also, people do make mistakes. However, Peace Corp's culture will condemn you to an early retirement with the "petty words, the fights, the acts of violence and a whole host of hoke's Spelling?. What is unfortunate is Peace Corps as a culture can't see the, "forest for the trees", in losing good career folks and volunteers committed to Peace, development and justice.

The culture of agression toward each other is like "kids in a sand box throwing sand on each other". What is sad is that Peace Corps staff's culture is protected by General Counsel of Peace Corps with their attorney's. They will also use the Federal Protective service at random with just accusations and without proof. This is not take away from you reporting your incident to them. It probably has helped reduce violence against you. However, when the Peace Corps culture wants to "pile on", they use every resource at their deposal, to use a "dump truck of sand to bury, the accuser, the person reporting an incident, or an act of violence in an another country".

We know the type of people running the show in DC at Peace Corps headquarters. We have known it for years. There are alot of good folks too, but when it comes to really making decisions about safety, health and attrition problems, they can't make decision. When they make a decision usually its in the wrong direction in terms of fairness for victim of violence. You can look at your particular case, my case, Walter Poirier, whose APCD generally blamed Walter for being missing, also staffers in positions of power firing young impressionable volunteers who return from an evacuatuion from their country as an act of power,and there are thousands more.

This is why Peace Corps does not want to heal the wounds. It would cost millions to repair it.

Recruitment is down at Peace Corps because the false spin press at Peace Corps can't cover up 27 Peace Corps volunteers killed, died or missing. They can't cover up the convulated Sp? numbers of rapes, and the acts of violence against volunteers and staff.

By with the truth effectively is the only way more volunteers will join.

Just think of all the volunteers who will go back, if you repair the past with a conflict resolution forum. Just think of the quality type staff people you will attract back for service.

Domestic and sexual violence should not be tolerated. The word consenting is an important word to remember for the folks in the IG's office. Leave her alone or we will start to help this young lady.

By the way, "get back to work and start to plan two volunteers at every site that we are coming at you with in the Congress."

Lack of recruitment does come from culture that does not have humility and sees the good in everyone that works for them. That is why they named it "corps". A closely knit group. We should learn how to behave and treat each person's service and privacy with respect.

Thanks for your comments and I hope the groper is caught. Keep your busy hands to the pencil and pen, "you needy groper, you".


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