President Barack Obama signs the Kate Puzey bill

The bill signing on Monday: At President Barack Obama’s left hand are Kate Puzey’s brother David, and her parents Harry and Lois Puzey. Source: White House photo

The bill signing on Monday: At President Barack Obama’s left hand are Kate Puzey’s brother David, and her parents Harry and Lois Puzey. Source: White House photo

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

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17 comments Add your comment

Married for life

November 21st, 2011
9:40 pm

Protection and education: Good risk management policies pay off everywhere. Too often, companies, government, and nonprofits bury their heads in the sand. The saddest part is when someone has to get hurt or die for us to pay attention to reality.

trz

November 22nd, 2011
12:07 am

Buckhead Boy

November 22nd, 2011
5:03 am

On this, the 48th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death, its good to be reminded of the Peace Corps and that young volunteers are still willing to confront danger and hardship to better the world — even in this context.

Smoke

November 22nd, 2011
6:00 am

Aquagirl

November 22nd, 2011
7:42 am

Thanks, Jim, for following this story.

findog

November 22nd, 2011
7:46 am

The real question is why this needed to be done fifty year too late

Randolph Phillips

November 22nd, 2011
8:21 am

Senaor Isakson proves once again that he is the kind of individual we need in Public office, by working to protect americans wherever we might be.

However, the Peace Corps was another Cold War creation to sell America to the third world and provide governmental Good Samaritanism planet wide at taxpayer expense (and provide a way out of the Draft for the privileged to help the Poor in Timbuktu). The facts are, however, the Cold War is over, we are $15 trillion in debt, our deficit is $1.4 trillion this year, (the draft is over, hopefully for good), and we can’t afford to continue the Cold War’s policies and mindset. Time to essentially end the Peace Corps, the Vocie of America, military and economic aid to half the world, and exports of our factories and jobs t the third world–partly at taxpayer expense.

Whichever political party learns that first will have no trouble winning national elections.

Mark

November 22nd, 2011
8:27 am

@ findog

November 22nd, 2011
7:46 am

The real question is why this needed to be done fifty year too late

Better late than never!

Dan

November 22nd, 2011
8:43 am

A feel good story to be sure, and my heart goes out to the Puzey family. But this is exactly the kind of things pols love, a pat on the back with no questions asked. First of all I am skeptical that any US law will have much impact on what happens in Benin, second what whistle blower protection usually means is that the accuser does not have to face the accused, I understand the emotional and tangible reasons for this, but one must give equal consideration to the adverse emotional and tangible impacts. A key component to a fair judicial system is for the accused to face the accuser. There are no facts given in this article, before congratulating the pols on a bill, I believe one needs to understand what it does…or doesn’t do

Aquagirl

November 22nd, 2011
10:04 am

but one must give equal consideration to the adverse emotional and tangible impacts.

Won’t somebody please think of the child rapists?!?!

Dan

November 22nd, 2011
10:11 am

@Aquagirl, so do you know Puzey saw? Do you know if her report was accurate? and do you know what this law actually means? Would it actually disuade these acts? Would it provide a means by which an innocent person could be railroaded by false (even if honestly intentioned) claims? Trust me I would love to get my hands on someone molesting young girls, I have 3 youngs nieces and these stories enrage me. But there is nothing in this story of substance other than a political photo op.

Obama 2012

November 22nd, 2011
10:28 am

…waiting for the slew of anti-Obama sentiments on this one. “I can’t believe he signed this into law with his left hand”.

Aquagirl

November 22nd, 2011
10:46 am

Dan, you maroon, these volunteers are overseas. They are sent to places that suck, with little or no local authorities to protect them. Why you think they should be hung out to dry is beyond me. Maybe you have past issues with the office squealer turning you in for stealing paper clips. Honey, it’s not about you.

My condolences to your daughters, having a daddy who immediately thinks “what about the MENZ” in this situation says volumes.

BTW, I believe Mr. Galloway has skin in the game, so to speak, in an earlier column he said his daughter was filling out a Peace Corps application. Why don’t you explain to him if his daughter should see co-workers raping children, she better keep her trap shut. Otherwise she’s on her own when that rapist comes to slit her throat.

Dan

November 22nd, 2011
12:22 pm

Aqua you are jumping right to speaking points and avoiding the real issue. Again point to a part of this law that protects a whistle blower? and how does it protect them and what part of it is enforceable in Benin, were there previous laws in place that were ignored? I see feel good mushiness in this article with zero facts that allow anyone to make a cogent assessment of the law. As for Galloway’s skin in the game, I would hope a journalist would understand, research and present the pertinent fact regarding the law so one could discern its real value. In know way does my post imply I think his daughter would or should keep her trap shut, indeed I am asking the reporter for verification or at least some substantive reason that it would allow her to do the right thing. Someone who chooses to cheer the law and ignores those critical questions is simply enabling the rapists

Aquagirl

November 22nd, 2011
3:11 pm

Again point to a part of this law that protects a whistle blower? and how does it protect them and what part of it is enforceable in Benin, were there previous laws in place that were ignored?

Oh fer chrissakes, is your google broken? Or did you want Jim to print the entire text of every bill he mentions? I’ll post a link, but if you can’t find it yourself, that says a lot about your general thought process.

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112s1280enr/pdf/BILLS-112s1280enr.pdf

If you want some interesting commentary, there’s a blog of Peace Corps volunteers who concern themselves with this sort of thing. Several have been raped or assaulted. Here’s a quote from a Karen Moldovan, a former volunteer overseas who has been working with the Peace Corps on this issue for quite a while:

“It goes without saying that the passage of The Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act is a momentous occasion. With this legislation, we will truly see a BETTER, STRONGER Peace Corps for all Volunteers.”

http://firstresponseaction.blogspot.com/

Now, if you want to disagree with people who have done more than post a drive-by comment on a blog, it’s a free country. You seem unaware it makes you look like a clueless @$$hat holding forth on something he knows NOTHING about, but it’s certainly your god-given right.

Schultzie

November 22nd, 2011
10:06 pm

When will the AJC moderate comments on these boards to save maroons like Dan from themselves?

Harry Puzey

November 25th, 2011
8:58 am

Thanks, Mr. Gallway, for your kind words on behalf of our family.I am enormously proud of my son, David,and my wife, Lois, for their efforts along with many others that were essential in getting this legislation passed.Senator Isakson deserves great praise for his leadership role in this endeavor and for being our advocate with the Peace Corps. We also want to thank Senator Boxer and Congressman Poe for sponsoring this bipartisan endeavor which will protect future Peace Corps Volunteers. We are humbly grateful for everyone’s tireless efforts and thank you for informing everyone of our Kate’s legacy. Sincerely, Harry Puzey (Kate Puzey’s Dad)