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American Opinion - On security need for the Peace Corps:

From The Associated Press Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States: On security need for the Peace Corps: The Northwest has long been a stronghold of Peace Corps volunteers, with 246 Oregonians currently serving. ... In ...

From The Associated Press

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States:

On security need for the Peace Corps:

The Northwest has long been a stronghold of Peace Corps volunteers, with 246 Oregonians currently serving. ...

In all, our state has 5,652 "returnees," a cadre that has helped to burnish a strong ethic of volunteerism here. We don't want to diminish these ties. Yet, in recent weeks, some core assumptions have, undeniably, been shaken. People here share in the profound sense of betrayal Peace Corps volunteers themselves have expressed about the agency's callous treatment of them -- after they were raped.

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How could such a progressive bastion rebuff its own volunteers when they were at their nadir in a strange country, seeking support -- and justice? It is very difficult to understand. They trusted, in some cases even idealized, the Peace Corps, but it failed them miserably.

Instead, the agency responded as colleges, churches and children's organizations have so often responded to rape and abuse victims: by blaming and shaming and trying to muffle them.

What makes this even harder to comprehend is that, for roughly half of its 50-year history, the Peace Corps has had more women volunteers than men. The tipping point came in 1985.

Today, the corps of 8,655, dispersed in 77 countries -- average age: 28 -- is 60 percent women and 40 percent men. Yet only relatively recently, and partially in response to national outrage over news reports, has the Peace Corps expressed remorse and unveiled a long list of changes to strengthen security and oversight. ...

Still, it will take time for the Peace Corps to rekindle trust and prove itself anew to Americans. Its mission remains critical. But safety of the volunteers who perform that mission is, or ought to be, paramount.

Only by showing substantial improvement, and the percolation of a new culture and mindset, can the Peace Corps rebuild its reputation, and safeguard itself.

-- The Orgegonian, Portland

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