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04.29.13 - People who volunteer for the Peace Corps commit two years of their lives to helping expand education, combat hunger, build infrastructure, and, in general, improve the lives of people in developing areas of the world. They do so in the belief that the U.S. government will support them in endeavors that reflect well on our country.
Yet for years, the federal government has abdicated its responsibility to women volunteers who are victims of sexual assault during their time with the Peace Corps. Between 2000 and 2009, women volunteers reported more than 1,000 sexual assaults, 221 of which were rapes or attempted rapes.
The government may soon offer women the health care options they deserve in those situations with the Peace Corps Equity Act, introduced last week in the Senate, a long overdue piece of legislation, according to an article in the Washington Post:
"This is really about fixing what feels like an antiquated provision [of law] that's completely out of sync with the way we treat civil servants," said Aram Schvey, policy counsel for foreign policy and human rights at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Like the Shaheen Amendment, which finally gave abortion coverage to women serving in the armed forces earlier this year, it's shocking this legislation is only now making progress, given how long women have been serving our country through the Peace Corps. The Center supports the end of this discriminatory policy against women, and urge Congress to act swiftly.