New affidavits filed by about 30 current and former Peace Corps volunteers who were sexually assaulted overseas reflect a difficult and troubling side of the aid organization, reports the Washington Post. Although it is hard to say how widespread violent crime is among volunteers, the agency has acknowledged that underreporting is high and that its statistics are incomplete.
The statements were provided to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as lawmakers held a hearing in the spring on the Peace Corps' response to crimes against volunteers. New affidavits were submitted last week. They were forwarded by First Response Action, an advocacy group of former volunteers that is pressing the Peace Corps for more support for victims of sexual violence. “The Peace Corps keeps telling us our stories are isolated incidents,” said Casey Frazee, First Response's founder, who was sexually assaulted in South Africa in 2009. “We know it is different. There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of cases out there.” In a statement, Director Aaron S. Williams apologized to volunteers who he said were “let down by the agency.”