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Congress Unites to Pass Peace Corps Bill

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Congress this week passed the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act, first introduced in both the House and Senate in July.

Named for Kate Puzey, who in 2009, while volunteering in Benin, was murdered after she reported a colleague for sexually assaulting the students they taught, the legislation will extend whistleblower protections available for federal employees to Peace Corps volunteers.

The act also tackles the issue of sexual assault in the Peace Corps by creating an advisory council to review the Peace Corps' sexual assault policy and by requiring victims' advocates to be stationed in each region with volunteers.

On average, 22 rapes and 267 assaults to Peace Corps volunteers are reported every year. Peace Corps data, however, suggest that twice as many assaults occur than are reported.

The bill passed unanimously in both the Senate and the House, a rarity for an often divided Congress.

"I am overjoyed that Congress approved this legislation, and I am very grateful to everyone who contributed to the team effort that made this day possible," said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., who co-sponsored the Senate bill.

Isakson's press release noted that the cost of the legislation is offset and does not add to the national debt.

Caitlin Fairchild joined Government Executive in summer 2011 as an editorial fellow, after graduating from the College of William & Mary, where she spent four years writing for the student newspaper, The Flat Hat. In March 2012, she was hired full time as a web producer. She has completed internships at Washingtonian Magazine and at the public affairs office of Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.

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