The Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 established a Sexual Assault Advisory Council charged with the responsibility of reviewing Peace Corps’ compliance with that law and issuing an annual report. Peace Corps announced the first report in a press release. Since then, the report has been posted without notice. It is not listed on the Peace Corps Home page under Agency Links, nor Agency Documents, nor Safety and Security. It can be found only by those who know to put the correct heading, “Sexual Assault Advisory Council”, in the search box. Here is the direct link to that important report: http://files.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/policies/PCAC_Annual_Report.pdf
The law, itself, is the work of a brave and brilliant group of RPCV women, First Response Action. These women were victims, themselves, of sexual assault, during service as was current Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. First Response Action organized to call attention to Peace Corps victims of Sexual Assault and to lobby for legislation to address the problem. At a time of a divided partisan Congress, the group was able to successfully lobby for bipartisan unanimous support to pass the legislation. The Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act was named for Volunteer Kate Puzey who was murdered directly after attempting to advocate for her female students who had come to her with their complaints of sexual assault by a teacher. That murder remains unsolved. There are those who believe that the murder stands as a warning to those who would try and advocate for female students.
The problem of sexual exploitation of women is epidemic in the world. Our own military is struggling with the problem, as are colleges and universities. Peace Corps publicizes its support of empowering girls and women. Yet, it does not laud the work of its own alumni, the RPCV women of First Response Action: Nor is it in the forefront of the fight to protect women. I wish that the Annual Report of the Sexual Assault Advisory Council was announced, each year, by a Peace Corps Press Conference, calling attention to the world wide problem, lauding the work of First Response Action and demanding protection for women and girls, everywhere. I wish that the “powers that be” at Peace Corps were 1/100th as brave as the women of First Response Action and Kate Puzey.
Read the section of the law establishing the Council:
Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 (Enrolled Bill [Final as Passed Both House and Senate] – ENR)
‘ESTABLISHMENT OF SEXUAL ASSAULT ADVISORY COUNCIL
- ‘Sec. 8D. (a) Establishment- There is established a Sexual Assault Advisory Council (in this section referred to as the ‘Council’).
- ‘(b) Membership- The Council shall be composed of not less than 8 individuals selected by the President, not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this section, who are returned volunteers (including volunteers who were victims of sexual assault and volunteers who were not victims of sexual assault) and governmental and nongovernmental experts and professionals in the sexual assault field. No Peace Corps employee shall be a member of the Council. The number of governmental experts appointed to the Council shall not exceed the number of nongovernmental experts.
- ‘(c) Functions; Meetings- The Council shall meet not less often than annually to review the sexual assault risk-reduction and response training developed under section 8A, the sexual assault policy developed under section 8B, and such other matters related to sexual assault the Council views as appropriate, to ensure that such training and policy conform to the extent practicable to best practices in the sexual assault field.
- ‘(d) Reports- On an annual basis for 5 years after the date of the enactment of this section and at the discretion of the Council thereafter, the Council shall submit to the President and the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives a report on its findings based on the reviews conducted pursuant to subsection (c).
- ‘(e) Employee Status- Members of the Council shall not be considered employees of the United States Government for any purpose and shall not receive compensation other than reimbursement of travel expenses and per diem allowance in accordance with section 5703 of title 5, United States Code.
- ‘(f) Nonapplicability of FACA- The Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) shall not apply to the Council.
‘(g) Sunset- This section shall cease to be effective on October 1, 2018.