Statement on Peace Corps’ Commitments to Sexual Assault Risk Reduction and Response and Accountability from Acting Director Carol Spahn

May 6, 2021

WASHINGTON – At the request of the Peace Corps, the Sexual Assault Advisory Council (SAAC), an independent team of subject-matter experts and former volunteers that reviews the Peace Corps’ policies and procedures as they relate to sexual assault risk reduction and response, convened for a special meeting on Wednesday. Acting Director Carol Spahn issued the following statement on the meeting and the agency’s efforts:

“As part of the agency’s plans to improve our systems to more consistently and comprehensively mitigate risk and provide support to sexual assault survivors, the Peace Corps requested a special meeting of the SAAC. In this meeting, we asked the SAAC to review progress on past recommendations and to work with management as we prioritize new recommendations from the Council and the Peace Corps community. We thank the Council for their service, time and attention to this matter.

“An important piece of feedback we have received, and shared with the SAAC, is that the agency must improve its communications with the Peace Corps community and general public. And we agree. We are committed to more proactively communicating the agency’s long term, systemic and structural progress around sexual assault risk reduction and response as well as other priority areas of the agency. We will publicly share updates on a regular basis and intend to have our first update available at the end of May. For those who are not already on our contact lists, there will be an option to subscribe to these updates.

“This is a critical time for Peace Corps as we reaffirm our commitment to volunteers and the communities we serve as well as to the agency’s overall transparency and accountability. We look forward to the SAAC and our community providing us valuable feedback and input.”

Returned volunteers who have been impacted by sexual violence, or any crime while serving in the Peace Corps, can contact the Office of Victim Advocacy (OVA), which is available 24 hours a day and can provide confidential services and referrals, by phone or text at 202-409-2704 and email at [email protected]. As required by the Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act of 2018, any staff member you may contact, including the Acting Director, is required to immediately notify OVA when the matter relates to sexual assault.

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, the environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today's global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 240,000 Americans of all ages have served in over 140 countries worldwide. For more information, visit peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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