Safety and Security
Serving as a Volunteer overseas entails certain safety and security risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, a limited understanding of the local language and culture, and the perception of being a wealthy American can put a Volunteer at risk. Property theft and burglaries are not uncommon. Incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although most Volunteers complete their two years of service without a serious safety and security incident. Together, the Peace Corps and Volunteers can reduce risk, but cannot truly eliminate all risk. Read more on how the Peace Corps approaches Safety and Security.
Support From Staff
The Peace Corps’ approach to safety is a five-pronged plan to help you stay safe during your service. The plan includes information sharing, Volunteer training, site selection criteria, a detailed emergency action plan, and protocols for addressing safety and security incidents.
Our first priority after an incident is to make sure the Volunteer is safe and receiving medical treatment as needed. The faster an incident is reported, the faster we can provide support, including medical, emotional, and legal. Peace Corps staff will also support Volunteers who choose to make a formal complaint with local law enforcement. It’s important for Volunteers to report incidents when they occur so that Peace Corps staff can take care of the Volunteer, as well as to determine if there is an ongoing safety and security concern, protect peer Volunteers, and preserve the right to file a complaint. The Peace Corps will train you to respond if you are the victim of a serious crime, including how to get to a safe location quickly and contact your Peace Corps office.
Crimes that do occur abroad are investigated and prosecuted by local jurisdictional authorities. If you decide to file a complaint, the Peace Corps will help through the process. All Volunteers who are victims of crime have access to the Office of Victim Advocacy, which provides information on the medical, emotional, and legal support options available, and will support you through the process. The Office of Victim Advocacy is available 24/7.
Staying Safe: Don’t Be a Target for Crime
Because many Volunteer sites are in rural, isolated settings, you must be prepared to take on a large degree of responsibility for your own safety. To reduce the likelihood that you will become a victim of crime, you can take steps to make yourself less of a target such as integrating into your community, learning the local language, acting responsibly, and abiding by Peace Corps policies and procedures. In many ways, you can do what you would do if you moved to a new city anywhere: Be cautious, check things out, ask questions, learn about your neighborhood, know where the more risky locations are, use common sense, and be aware.
Factors that Contribute to Risk
Numerous factors can heighten a Volunteer’s risk, many of which are within a Volunteer’s control. By far the most common crime that Volunteers experience is theft, which is more likely to happen when Volunteers are away from their sites, in crowded locations (such as markets or on public transportation), and when leaving items unattended. Crime at the village or town level is less frequent than in the large cities; people in smaller villages/towns know each other and are more likely to look out for their neighbors. Tourist attractions in large towns are favorite worksites for pickpockets.
- Before you depart for service, you can take measures to reduce
valuables in the United States, particularly those that are irreplaceable or
have sentimental value
copies of important documents and account numbers with someone you trust in the
a hidden money pouch or “dummy” wallet as a decoy
personal articles insurance
After you arrive in-country, you will receive detailed information about common crimes, factors that contribute to Volunteer risk, and local strategies to reduce that risk. Some of those include avoiding high-risk areas, knowing the local language, choosing safe routes for travel, and limiting alcohol consumption. You will also be informed of safety and security policies, including prohibitions on riding public transportation at night, hitchhiking, and traveling the night train alone; avoiding high-risk recreation activities; and others.
Please take time to review the crime data and statistics for Jordan.
Safety Issues In-Country
- Motor vehicle accidents: This is the single greatest risk to your safety in Jordan. Volunteers are required to wear seat belts when available. Due to high risk involving certain modes of transportation, many countries have placed restrictions on travel. In Jordan, Volunteers are prohibited from traveling away from their village after dark, except in emergencies. Volunteers are also encouraged to choose larger buses that appear to be in good repair.
- Robbery/burglary: Some Volunteers have been pickpocketed or had their homes broken into in the past, and Volunteers must employ the same precautions and good habits that they would in the U.S. The Peace Corps will teach you about proper home safety during training and requires that all Volunteers change the locks (and maintain all keys) before moving into approved accommodations.
- Regional conflicts: Political uncertainty and regional volatility, while not presently adversely impacting the safety and security of Volunteers at their sites, are growing concerns and this climate is not likely to change in the immediate future. Jordan borders Syria, and Volunteers are not currently placed in certain areas near the Syrian border. Jordan also borders the West Bank and Israel, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict continues. More than 60 percent of Jordan’s population is Palestinian, and people in Jordan are very sensitive to events that affect Palestinians. When tension is high between the Arabs and Israelis, which is much of the time, there can be large demonstrations of solidarity from Palestinians in Jordan. You are discouraged from traveling to Israel during your service in Jordan. There is no travel to Iraq! Updates about these political situations will be provided as your departure for Jordan nears and frequently throughout your service.
- Harassment: Volunteers report varying levels of harassment, such as having rocks thrown at them by children, being called derogatory names by teenagers, and being subject to overt sexual comments. This is less likely to happen at a Volunteer’s site and more likely to happen in larger cities where Volunteers are unknown. Strategies for coping with harassment are discussed at length during pre-service training. While whistles and verbal harassment based on race or gender may be fairly common on the street, this behavior may be reduced if you abide by local cultural norms, dress conservatively, and respond according to the training you will receive.
- Alcohol abuse: Jordan is an Islamic country and alcohol, although available in Amman and some larger towns, is strictly forbidden by the Muslim religion. A Volunteer should not be seen drinking alcohol at any time and should not even discuss or refer to alcohol while at work or in her/his community. Alcohol use can discredit a Volunteer and the Peace Corps.
- Sexual assault: Volunteers have been targets of sexual assault in Jordan. Alcohol consumption and cross-cultural differences in gender relations are associated with these assaults, and the assailant, on occasion, has been an acquaintance of the Volunteer. Volunteers who take seriously the training provided by Peace Corps/Jordan regarding sexual assaults can minimize their risk. Volunteers are required to report all assaults and threats of assault to Peace Corps staff so an appropriate response and support can be provided.
- Dating: Sex outside marriage is judged harshly in Jordan and may jeopardize your safety and/or ability to develop mutually respectful relationships in your community. Muslim women may be subject to severe retribution, even death, in the name of family honor. Though not illegal, homosexuality is culturally unacceptable in Jordan. Jordanian gays may be jailed and beaten by police. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual Volunteers will have to practice discretion. The Peace Corps is committed to providing confidential support to all Volunteers, regardless of sexual orientation.