Follow by Email

Monday, May 27, 2013

Rape in the Military on Memorial Day? How about Rape in Peace Corps? Do Sensitive New Age Guys and Third World People Rape? You Betcha

I'm listening to NPR, as I do most mornings, and I'm hearing headline after headline about how the Obama administration is focusing on rape in the United States military.

Rape is a bad thing and it should be stopped wherever it occurs. Victims should be restored to feeling safe and perpetrators should be punished. Programs should work against new rapes.

But … why is rape in the military the big NPR headline on Memorial Day, of all days? This is the day we honor our military heroes.

I question the timing of the Obama administration.

Here's a thought – let's focus on rape in Peace Corps.

I served in Peace Corps twice – once in Africa, once in Asia. Rape was part of everyday life for women in Peace Corps.

One of my fellow volunteers was raped in Africa – one that I knew about. Peace Corps treated her horribly. The Peace Corps' treatment of this rape victim was as bad, from my perspective, as the rape itself.

Attempted sexual assault was constant. I was never raped, but I faced constant threats and inappropriate behavior, both in Africa and Asia. I could tell you stories.

Further, Peace Corps officials constantly hit on Peace Corps volunteers. I was hit on by American Peace Corps trainers and bosses. The country director grabbed me at a party while his wife was just a few feet away. I talked to friends about it and they said that he had hit on them, too. This was the man we'd go to for letters of recommendation after our service ended.

It's funny how the constant threat of rape for Peace Corps women, Peace Corps' officials hitting on volunteers, and Peace Corps' hideous handling of these issues almost never gets talked about in mainstream media.

Peace Corps is very much a left-wing project. I have to wonder if the media has just decided that it wouldn't pay to talk about Third World, Muslim, Hindu, and Animist men raping American women. It wouldn't pay to talk about Peace Corps' higher ups hitting on much younger, and less powerful Peace Corps women, usually girls in their early twenties, just out of college, overseas for the first time and highly vulnerable.

Here's a snip from a rare news account of rape in Peace Corps:

"One said the Peace Corps had ignored warnings that she was in danger, eventually resulting in her gang rape. Others told stories of being blamed for their assaults because they had had a drink or gone walking in the evening, and some said that after they were assaulted, the Peace Corps made it difficult or impossible to seek adequate counseling. Volunteer Karestan Koenen (pictured), who will testify before Congress today, says she was raped in Niger in 1991. When she tried to report it to a Peace Corps official in Washington, this was the response: 'I walk into her office and the first thing she says to me is, 'I am so sick of you girls going out with men, drinking and dancing and then when something happens, you call it rape.' I felt like someone had just kicked me in the stomach.'" Source


  1. Thank you for posting this! Military rape seems to be continually discussed and rape and assault in Peace Corps seems to be largely ignored, compared to other issues. Thank you for your service and thank you for writing about this.

    1. Thank you very much for reading and responding!

  2. This has been going on for decades in the Peace Corps. It seems too few people want to go up against this part of the Kennedy/Shriver legacy.

    From the perspective of female volunteers, there have been design flaws in the program since its inception. Sending young women alone out into isolated places in the developing world, many of whose countries hold females in general in very low regard, with few resources and little-to-no support is a recipe for disaster. Making them live with families that heretofore have had little-to-no contact with westerners and receive no training in understanding and dealing with them is a recipe for disaster. The culture of throwing volunteers under the bus after the fact to preserve diplomatic relations is a disaster.

    I think the Peace Corps should have to keep accurate records about these crimes and disclose them to prospective PCVs and their families. The lack of proper tracking and disclosure is deeply troubling. There has been plenty of time to work this out.

    And then there is the maltreatment of the victims...

    1. Anonymous, thank you. Yes. What you say makes perfect sense.