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Sexual Assault Risk Reduction and Response

Peace Corps’ Sexual Assault Risk Reduction and Response program incorporates more than 30 policy changes, extensive training for Volunteers and staff, and clearly defined procedures for mitigating and responding to sexual assault. The program meets the requirements of the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act, signed by President Obama in November 2011, and reflects Peace Corps’ ironclad commitment to the physical and emotional well-being of every single volunteer. This comprehensive effort incorporates best practices and recommendations from internal and external stakeholders, including Peace Corps Volunteers and staff, and nationally recognized subject-matter experts.

Providing for Volunteers’ health, safety and security, and helping them heal and recover from sexual assault in a way that demonstrates Peace Corps’ Commitment to Sexual Assault Victims, underlies each component of the agency’s revised policies and programs.

Elements of the program include:

  • Comprehensive risk reduction training for Volunteers
  • Comprehensive response training for Volunteers
  • New staff training on responding to Volunteers who are victims of sexual assault
  • New post and headquarters staff training
  • Implementation of a Coordinated Agency Response System that uses a multi-disciplinary team approach based on best practices in the field 
  • Establishment of the Office of Victim Advocacy to provide 24/7 support for Volunteers
  • Trained Sexual Assault Response Liaisons stationed in every country to accompany Volunteers through the in-country incident response process
  • A 24-hour anonymous sexual assault hotline accessible to volunteers by phone, text or online chat staffed by trained, external support specialists who provide crisis counseling and information about Peace Corps’ sexual assault reporting and response procedures
  • Enhanced Medical Evacuation procedures for Volunteers
  • Improved clinical care for Volunteers who are victims of sexual assault
  • Hiring of a trained sexual assault nurse to coordinate clinical care for Volunteers who are victims of sexual assault
  • Establishment of a Peace Corps Sexual Assault Advisory Council, consisting of returned Peace Corps Volunteers and leading experts and professionals in the field
  • Rigorous monitoring and evaluation to track progress
  • Revised sexual assault definitions and classifications for incident tracking and data analysis that inform Volunteer and staff training and improve program effectiveness; definitions do not determine the level of care or support a Volunteer receives
  • Optional Restricted Reporting of sexual assaults to protect Volunteers’ privacy and further encourage reporting
  • Confidentiality protection strictly prohibiting retaliation against Volunteers who raise allegations of wrongdoing
  • Immunity from disciplinary action for Volunteers who are victims of sexual assault to encourage reporting to Peace Corps
  • Updates to the Peace Corps Stalking policy
  • Updates to the Peace Corps Sexual Harassment policy, and new processes to address allegations of sexual misconduct and encourage Volunteers to report incidents to Peace Corps
  • Retention of counsel and payment of related legal expenses for Volunteers who are victims of sexual assault

Last updated May 03 2016