Peace Corps neglect accountability, safety

Every year, young people across the country join the Peace Corps in order to make a difference in the world. They often put their lives at risk to help others in need.

For 50 years, the Peace Corps has placed volunteers in different countries, building a respectable reputation through its charitable acts. However, due to recent events, the organization’s lack of transparency and accountability has become a disheartening issue.

More than 1,000 young women have been raped or sexually assaulted while volunteering for the Peace Corps since 2000, according to an ABC News investigation.

Recent incidents to make national news include the Peace Corps ignoring safety concerns from volunteers, blaming those who have been attacked and violating confidentiality.

The work volunteers do in the Peace Corps changes lives, but when the organization’s leaders seemingly ignore the safety and concerns of volunteers in the field, it certainly damages the reputation and credibility of the group.

Students interested in joining the Peace Corps need to be aware it is nothing like studying abroad. Though your intentions may be in the right place, living in a foreign country poses considerable threats.

Kate Puzey, a young Peace Corps volunteer, was living in the African country of Benin when she was murdered in 2009. Her family said Peace Corps personnel failed to keep her identity a secret when Puzey sent an e-mail revealing that another volunteer had been sexually abusing children at the school where she worked.

The mother of Stephanie Chance, another volunteer in Africa who died in October, wasn’t informed about how her daughter passed away by Peace Corps officials until after she contacted ABC News, who then contacted the organization.

People should not have to guess what is happening to their loved ones while participating in the Peace Corps. Information involving the safety of volunteers needs to be available to friends and family at all times.

Regardless of the recent controversy, students shouldn’t be completely turned off by the Peace Corps. More than 200,000 people have volunteered through the organization, and many have had positive experiences.

However, while the Peace Corps provides significant opportunities to those in need around the world, people should not have to sacrifice their safety while volunteering.

Those interested in the Peace Corps should not assume they’re safe just because they’re volunteering for an established organization. The Peace Corps’ ultimate responsibility should be to show sensitivity and accountability to volunteers and their families.

The Peace Corps has devoted years to enriching the lives of those they don’t know. Their own volunteers should feel that same compassion for their safety and well-being when serving in foreign countries.