Where are Peace Corps volunteers most at risk of sexual assault?

At a dramatic congressional hearing today, two former Peace Corps volunteers took the stand before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and recounted horrific stories of rapes they suffered while posted around the world. The former volunteers say that the Peace Corps higher ups responsible for watching over them in the field ignored their safety concerns, and that when sexual assaults did occur, they were treated as though the assault was their fault.

CBS News analyzed sexual assaults reported to the agency from 2004 through 2009 and found that Peace Corps volunteers were at higher risk for sexual assault in some countries more than others.

The one country that consistently tops the list with a high rate of reported sexual assaults is Jordan.

The following countries had reported rates of sexual assault for Peace Corps volunteers at 10% or more:

2009: Armenia, Azerbijan, Peru, Vanuatu, Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan, Jordan

2008: Georgia, Jordan

2007: Albania, Georgia, Mongolia, Jordan

2006: Georgia, Jordan

2005: East Timor, Jordan

2004: Jordan, Mongolia, Morocco

The Peace Corps says between 2000 and 2009 there have been over 1000 sexual assaults including 221 rapes or attempted rapes.

Today was not the first time concerns were raised about the safety and security of Peace Corps volunteers. A report from 2002 by the Government Accountability Office noted that volunteers reported they had not been prepared for sexual harassment. Others told the GAO that they wished they had been given self-protection training. At that time 51% of volunteers reported sexual harassment.

Former Peace Corps volunteers who were raped during their time in the field told the House Foreign Affairs Committee today that their training did not warn them of the possible dangers. They said the sexual assault prevention video "Serving Safely" shown during their training portrayed the victims as "apologetic" for being victims of assault.

The Peace Corps said today they would no longer use the video and will develop a new one.

  • Laura Strickler

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