Monday, May 20, 2013
Congress Passes Bill to Better Protect Volunteers from Violence, Sexual Assault
Everything was going well when Megan Sweeney first arrived in Kyrgyzstan this past March, but that all changed after a particular incident.
Like dozens of Alaska, Megan Sweeney chose to volunteer two years of her life overseas in the Peace Corps.
“No volunteer experience is ever the same, and they tell you that when you leave,” she explained.
Everything was going well when Megan first arrived in Kyrgyzstan this past March, but that all changed after a particular incident, which she said she could not go into detail about.
“Peace Corps would say to us is that you’re in charge of your own safety; you have to be in charge of making sure that you are making good decisions,” she said, and that when bad decisions were made, they “put it back on the volunteer.”
“When bad decisions were made they put it back on the volunteer versus the situation.”
Megan said she was made to feel like the incident was her fault, and, after six months, she returned home to Alaska.
Congress passed a bill Tuesday to better protect volunteers who are victims of violence and sexual assault after volunteer Kate Puzey was murdered in Africa when she accused an employee of sexually assaulting several women.
“There are things that can go wrong and every once in a while every organization needs some kind of review. This is what’s needed at this point, I believe,” said Joseph Sullivan, a former Peace Corps volunteer.
Supporters of the program say it's one more safety net to help future volunteers feel at ease while serving abroad.