On Monday, the day that Washington’s chasm between Republicans and Democrats challenged the imagination, a small sliver of Thanksgiving Day peace was in evidence at the White House, as President Barack Obama pronounced a quiet benediction on the life of 24-year-old Kate Puzey of Cumming, Ga.
Puzey, Peace Corps volunteer, was murdered in the west African country of Benin in 2009 after informing her superiors that a fellow employee was molesting female students in her village.
The bill signed by Obama this afternoon was sponsored by U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., provides more protections for volunteers in the 50-year-old organization. From the Miami Herald:
The law is the culmination of Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson’s two-year-long advocacy on behalf of Puzey. The law is aimed at protecting Peace Corps workers who report sexual and other assaults while working in the field and provides whistleblower protection for Peace Corps workers who report assaults against themselves or others.
It also requires the organization to report and develop training methods for dealing with sexual assaults, and it directs the Peace Corps to submit to Congress annual reports on assaults on volunteers. The organization already has put some of these measures into place.
From 2000 to 2009, an average of 22 female Peace Corps workers a year reported that they were victims of sexual assault, according to the organization.
Sexually violent crimes often go unreported, and the true figures might be much higher.
We do not normally compliment Washington politicians. But to Isakson: Very nicely done.
And to the Puzey family: This nation owes you and Kate more thanks than any fourth Thursday in November can hold.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider