Safety in International Volunteering Programs
More than 1000 Peace Corps members, most of them women, have been sexually-assaulted or killed in the last 10 years. The Peace Corps has come under a great deal of criticism regarding how it handles the safety of its members, particularly women, while they serve abroad.

MOST members have a safe, satisfying experience in the Peace Corps, as well as other long-term volunteering abroad programs, but remember that those who have a negative experience tend not to blog about such or to be featured on the PeaceCorps web site. I have been stunned at what I have heard from women who are former Peace Corps members first hand, let alone what I have seen in reports on television shows like 20/20.

The reality is that there are MANY international volunteering programs that are also at fault regarding how they handle assaults on volunteers. The same is true of international organizations that place paid staff - many have poor, if largely unknown, track records regarding protecting their staff while working abroad.

I am not at all attempting to tell you not to serve in an international volunteering program. MOST women have a great experience serving in such a program, and some feel so safe the entire time that they think safety precautions and talk of such are overblown.

But I do think women in particular need to take precautions to stay safe when serving in an international volunteering program.

My advice on what you can do to better ensure your safety abroad:

Your safety supersedes your volunteer commitment - if you are under threat, do what you need to do to get away from that threat if your volunteer-sending organization/host organization isn't responding appropriately.

Here are lots more thoughts about health & safety for USA women traveling, abroad or in the USA.

Also see:

 Return to my volunteer-related resources

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