President Obama Signs Law to Protect Peace Corps Volunteers

On Monday, President Obama signed the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act, legislation designed to protect Peace Corps Volunteers during their tours of service. The law provides “whistleblower protection” for Peace Corps workers and requires that the Peace Corps take measures to reduce sexual assault risk and establish a response protocol to protect volunteers. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on African Affairs, introduced the bill in July.

The bill’s namesake, Kate Puzey, was a Peace Corp worker who was killed in Badjoude, Benin in 2009, after reporting a co-worker for molesting young girls in the village where they worked as teachers. Harry Puzey, the victim’s father, expressed gratitude over the signing of the bill stating, “It gave us something to be thankful for at Thanksgiving.”

Puzey is one of many women in the Peace Corps who have been victims of violent attacks in recent years. Approximately 22 women have reported that they were victims of sexual assault from 2000 to 2009, although the true number of cases may never be known for sure due to a lack of reporting.

Associated Press 11/21/11; Kansas City Star 11/21/11

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