About Time! from Belize PCV

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: October 26, 2003: Dayton Daily News reports on Peace Corps Safety and Security: What RPCVs say about this Series on other Message Boards: About Time! from Belize PCV

By BelizeRPCV (host-209-214-160-121.rdu.bellsouth.net - on Monday, November 10, 2003 - 10:58 am: Edit Post

I was a PCV in Belize, Central America during the early 1990s. At that time, Belize had a serious crime problem in the urban areas--as was documented by the US travel advisory for Belize City. Even so, Peace Corps Belize still placed over 30 volunteers in Belize City. Then, one-by-one volunteers experienced a variety of attacks from muggings by street youth/gangs to a number of attempted sexual assaults. One volunteer had her home invaded by two men while a gang of cheering men waited outside (Belize City). Another volunteer was traveling in a very rural area when an attempted rape occured--the two men pulled her t-shirt over her head while threatening her with a machete. She was only freed when a Belizean co-worker who was traveling behind her on the foot trail intervened. As volunteers during the early 1990s, we made complaints about safety concerns and the lack of a 'system' of response by Peace Corps as an agency. We were told to "stop complaining" or we could always leave. As we continued to press the issue and asked to be at least briefed about "what, where, and when" a crime occured against a volunteer--we were told that was a breach of confidentiality. So, it was impossible to even tell us where the HOT SPOTS were for crime and violence in Belize City. In fustration, we eventually requested assistance (inquiry) from our State Senators. Then all the sudden, a consultant was flown into Belize City, the complaining volunteers were pulled into a 'focus group' type scenario and the problem was analyzed. As I understand it, from a Peace Corps insider the summary report on file offered a final analysis that there was a small vocal minority over-reacting to the problem. And it is EXACTLY that kind of spin that continues to put volunteers in Belize and all around the world at risk! And NO ONE can deny the violence in Belize. If you go back in the history books, at least one British volunteer (another development organization) was murdered in 1991. Of course, Peace Corps staff said that SHE KNEW HER ATTACKER AND WAS RUMORED TO HAVE BEEN SLEEPING WITH HIM!
Lastly, as a group of vocal women volunteers, our Peace Corps staff finally told us that IF we continued to press so hard on the issue, the Belizean government could (in an act of anger and embarassment)rescind the agency's invitation to be there--and we wouldn't want to be responsible for that! All I can say is THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to the Dayton reporter for taking on this important issue--for it can only improve the staff and volunteer development and training necessary to prevent further violence against volunteers!

By bankass.com (0-1pool136-53.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Monday, November 10, 2003 - 8:45 pm: Edit Post

Belize RPCV,

Thanks for your input. You are 'right on". The attitude of Washington and in the field is the same. Blame the victims or people who speak out about it. They still don't get it. Keep writing in and providing the truth.


By anonymous (dsl-b2-13.sisna.com - on Monday, November 10, 2003 - 11:06 pm: Edit Post

Most people know thier attackers.

By bankass.com (0-1pool136-26.nas12.somerville1.ma.us.da.qwest.net - on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 7:14 am: Edit Post

We don't know you because you are anonymous. And I would say less than half know there attackers in Peace Corps.

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