2011.05.11: May 11, 2011: Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams Details Enhanced Volunteer Safety, Health and Support Measures Before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

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Congress Holds Hearings on Sexual Assault Date: May 15 2011 No: 1518 Congress Holds Hearings on Sexual Assault
Congress held hearings on the sexual assault of Peace Corps volunteers. Read the testimony of returned and current Peace Corps volunteers on how the problem is still ongoing, and not limited to any particular country or region. Director Williams says that "it has become apparent to me that the Peace Corps has not always been sufficiently responsive or sensitive to victims of crime and their families. I sincerely regret that." Read what the Peace Corps is doing to address the issue.


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Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams Details Enhanced Volunteer Safety, Health and Support Measures Before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams Details Enhanced Volunteer Safety, Health and Support Measures Before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

The Peace Corps has instituted the following reforms to strengthen safety and security procedures and ensure compassionate care for victims of crime. Issued Peace Corps' Commitment to Sexual Assault Victims, a set of core principles to ensure we provide timely, effective, and compassionate support to victims of sexual assault. Implemented and trained staff on our new Guidelines for Responding to Rape and Sexual Assault. The guidelines emphasize a victim-centered approach with specific procedures posts must follow to respond promptly to an incident and provide the best possible support to a victim. The agency's Sexual Assault Working Group is developing a comprehensive sexual assault prevention and response program. The working group includes returned volunteers and survivors of rape and sexual assault, as well as staff with expertise in trauma response. At the suggestion of returned Peace Corps volunteers with First Response Action, Peace Corps hired a nationally recognized leader in victims' rights to be the agency's first victim's advocate. The victim's advocate will make sure victims of crime get the emotional, medical, legal, and other support they need. Created the Peace Corps Volunteer Sexual Assault Panel, made up of outside experts and returned volunteers who were victims of sexual assault, to help Peace Corps design and implement sexual assault risk reduction and response strategies.

Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams Details Enhanced Volunteer Safety, Health and Support Measures Before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Peace Corps Director Testifies Before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Details enhanced volunteer safety, health and support measures

Caption: Aaron S. Williams, the Peace Corps director, apologized to victims of crime on Wednesday before a House committee. Photo: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 11, 2011 Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Peace Corps' enhanced safety, health and support measures for volunteers serving around the world. The hearing, entitled "Peace Corps at 50", also included testimony from returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs), Peace Corps' Inspector General and members of the Peace Corps community.

In prepared testimony, Director Williams outlined ways the Peace Corps has increased its support to volunteers who have been the victim of a sexual assault or other crime. Since Director Williams took office in August 2009, the Peace Corps has instituted several new measures to improve the agency's sexual assault risk reduction and response program. Director Williams' testimony can be found in its entirety here.

"The health, safety, and support of every member of our Peace Corps family is my number one priority," said Peace Corps Director Williams in a prepared statement. "The Peace Corps of today takes the issue of sexual assault prevention and response seriously and we are dedicated to providing compassionate victim-centered care. Since I became Director, the Peace Corps has put in place new policies to reduce the risks faced by volunteers and to ensure they receive our full support when a tragedy occurs."

The Director continued his statement by detailing the measures the Peace Corps has taken to strengthen global operations and improve the quality of care provided to volunteers. He concluded his statement by offering sincere thanks to the Peace Corps volunteers of yesterday, today and tomorrow for their commitment to public service.

The Peace Corps will continue to make additional changes as the agency works with returned volunteers, other government agencies and leaders in the field of sexual assault risk reduction and response. The Peace Corps has instituted the following reforms to strengthen safety and security procedures and ensure compassionate care for victims of crime.

Issued Peace Corps' Commitment to Sexual Assault Victims, a set of core principles to ensure we provide timely, effective, and compassionate support to victims of sexual assault.

Implemented and trained staff on our new Guidelines for Responding to Rape and Sexual Assault. The guidelines emphasize a victim-centered approach with specific procedures posts must follow to respond promptly to an incident and provide the best possible support to a victim.

The agency's Sexual Assault Working Group is developing a comprehensive sexual assault prevention and response program. The working group includes returned volunteers and survivors of rape and sexual assault, as well as staff with expertise in trauma response.

At the suggestion of returned Peace Corps volunteers with First Response Action, Peace Corps hired a nationally recognized leader in victims' rights to be the agency's first victim's advocate. The victim's advocate will make sure victims of crime get the emotional, medical, legal, and other support they need.

Created the Peace Corps Volunteer Sexual Assault Panel, made up of outside experts and returned volunteers who were victims of sexual assault, to help Peace Corps design and implement sexual assault risk reduction and response strategies.

For more detailed information on Peace Corps' safety and security practices, including the agency's commitment to volunteers, please visit the Safety Section on the Peace Corps website.




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Headlines: May, 2011; Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams; Sexual Assault and Harassment; Congress; Legislation; Safety and Security of Volunteers





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Congress Holds Hearings on Sexual Assault Date: May 15 2011 No: 1518 Congress Holds Hearings on Sexual Assault
Congress held hearings on the sexual assault of Peace Corps volunteers. Read the testimony of returned and current Peace Corps volunteers on how the problem is still ongoing, and not limited to any particular country or region. Director Williams says that "it has become apparent to me that the Peace Corps has not always been sufficiently responsive or sensitive to victims of crime and their families. I sincerely regret that." Read what the Peace Corps is doing to address the issue.

Peace Corps: The Next Fifty Years Date: March 8 2011 No: 1513 Peace Corps: The Next Fifty Years
As we move into the Peace Corps' second fifty years, what single improvement would most benefit the mission of the Peace Corps? Read our op-ed about the creation of a private charitable non-profit corporation, independent of the US government, whose focus would be to provide support and funding for third goal activities. Returned Volunteers need President Obama to support the enabling legislation, already written and vetted, to create the Peace Corps Foundation. RPCVs will do the rest.

March 1, 2011: The First PCVs Date: February 27 2011 No: 1495 March 1, 2011: The First PCVs
Bob Klein writes: First PCVs Arrive in Ghana 22 Feb
Hugh Pickens says PC to Win Nobel Peace Prize 22 Feb
Patricia McKissick sees history unfolding in Cairo 12 Feb
Bruce Rosen Leads Lawsuit Against Iran 10 Feb
Claudia Jayne teaches Sewing in Fiji 9 Feb
Michael Snarskis Discovered Ancient Civilizations 4 Feb
John Freivalds writes: Egypt compared to Iran in 1970's 2 Feb
Ted Poe to investigate PCV Sexual Assault Victims 31 Jan
Peter DiCampo takes Flashlight Portraits of Ghana 25 Jan
Lyn Wright Fogle says Learning new Language Transforms Us 25 Jan
Shanti A. Parikh Examines Structures of Gender Inequality 21 Jan
Ann Sheehan writes: Hearing Sarge sent me to Africa 20 Jan
Laurence Leamer writes: I remember Sarge as he was 19 Jan
Jim Fedako writes: What stands in way of rebuilding Haiti? 17 Jan
Peace Corps Evacuates PCVs from Niger 17 Jan
Sean Smith quits Hollywood for Peace Corps 17 Jan
Peace Corps Malaysia Prgoram to be Re-instated 15 Jan
Brian Buckley co-owns Innisfree Poetry Bookstore 13 Jan
Rob Prince writes: Tunisia explodes 13 Jan
Pancho Lane writes about Colombia 1 12 Jan
Erik Thompson brings Micronesians to Minnesota 24 Nov
Alan Guskin helped lay foundation for Peace Corps 4 Nov

How Volunteers Remember Sarge Date: January 18 2011 No: 1487 How Volunteers Remember Sarge
As the Peace Corps' Founding Director Sargent Shriver laid the foundations for the most lasting accomplishment of the Kennedy presidency. Shriver spoke to returned volunteers at the Peace Vigil at Lincoln Memorial in September, 2001 for the Peace Corps 40th. "The challenge I believe is simple - simple to express but difficult to fulfill. That challenge is expressed in these words: PCV's - stay as you are. Be servants of peace. Work at home as you have worked abroad. Humbly, persistently, intelligently. Weep with those who are sorrowful, Care for those who are sick. Serve your wives, serve your husbands, serve your families, serve your neighbors, serve your cities, serve the poor, join others who also serve," said Shriver. "Serve, Serve, Serve. That's the answer, that's the objective, that's the challenge."

PCV Murder Investigated Date: January 18 2011 No: 1477 PCV Murder Investigated
ABC News has investigated the murder of Benin PCV Kate Puzey. Read our original coverage of the crime, comments on Peace Corps actions, the email Puzey sent her country director about sexual incidents with Puzey's students and with another PCV, the backstory on how RPCVs helped the Puzey family, and Peace Corps' official statement. PCOL Editorial: One major shortcoming that the Puzey murder highlights is that Peace Corps does not have a good procedure in place for death notifications.

Join Us Mr. President! Date: June 26 2009 No: 1380 Join Us Mr. President!
"We will double the size of the Peace Corps by its 50th anniversary in 2011. And we'll reach out to other nations to engage their young people in similar programs, so that we work side by side to take on the common challenges that confront all humanity," said Barack Obama during his campaign. Returned Volunteers rally and and march to the White House to support a bold new Peace Corps for a new age. Latest: Senator Dodd introduces Peace Corps Improvement and Expansion Act of 2009 .



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Story Source: Peace Corps Press Release

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Williams; SA; Congress; Legislation; Safety

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