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The Peace Corps at 50: What’s a Little Rape, Murder, and Brutalization of Women Between Friends?

posted at 5:15 pm on May 16, 2011 by

Deborah Gardner, Peace Corps volunteer, brutally murdered in Tonga

That great lefty favorite, the Peace Corps, just had a 50th birthday! You can tell, because it’s demanding presents. The Lefties who totally love conscience-salving stints in third world countries rejoiced and then swiftly returned to their soy lattes and organic arugula. Senator Harry Reid issued a breathless, sycophantic statement in which he, being Harry Reid, couldn’t resist making things up, pouting and petulantly trying to cling to funding.

“However, I’m deeply discouraged that Republicans have proposed slashing significant funding for a program that trains workers for a 21st century global economy, builds good will around the world and promotes public service. Instead of reducing the effectiveness of a highly cost-effective program, we should cut government spending in a smart, responsible way that targets waste and excess while keeping our economy growing.”

Of course, he had nothing to say in response to charges that perhaps the Peace Corps isn’t so peaceful. At least not for the women who were raped – and then blamed for being raped - during their stints in the corps. No ado was made about the House hearing on Wednesday investigating the same either, nor the legislation proposed by Congressman Poe (R-TX) that would require some Peace Corps oversight. In fact, the New York Times reported that Democrats wished to, as always, sweep such things under the rug in fear that their precious funding might be lost:

But whether such a bill would pass Congress is unclear. Representative Niki Tsongas, Democrat of Massachusetts, is co-sponsoring Mr. Poe’s bill, but other Democrats are skittish about it. They worry that the legislation, and Wednesday’s hearing, might be used to undermine the Peace Corps — the legacy of a Democratic president — and cut its funding.

Hey, what’s a little rape, with the added insult of victim blaming, as long as we keep our sweet, sweet funding? You know what I am skittish about, Democrats? Funding an organization wherein women are raped, assaulted and even murdered; 1000 women have been sexually assaulted while in the Peace Corps in the past decade alone. And 23 Peace Corps volunteers have been murdered since its creation. This isn’t new, either. Peace Corps volunteer Deborah Gardner lost her life in Tonga in 1976.

Deborah Gardner (pictured above) was murdered by fellow Peace Corps worker Dennis Priven, who turned himself in. After stabbing her – 22 times – to death. The Peace Corps reaction? Try to cover it up:

“Even after everyone knew it was Dennis, already that effort by the Peace Corps to put the blame somewhere else. And to make things go away,” says Weiss. “That impulse has seized the Peace Corps within moments of Deb’s death.”

As revolting as that is, they went one further. The Peace Corps hired, and paid for, the best defense attorney available in Tonga. Priven was found not guilty and the Peace Corps quietly shuffled him back to the United States. Where he lived freely, for decades. Working for the government. No, really:

Weiss says Priven has led a small, anonymous life since then. He’s divorced, and he recently retired after working for decades for the U.S. government.

“Twelve years after Deb’s death, he was working for Social Security,” says Weiss. “And ultimately was their top computer guy in the Brooklyn office.

Kate Puzey was 24 years old when she was brutally murdered, her throat slit, while working for the Peace Corps in 2009. Her concerns about a fellow employee were ignored, and then the subject of an attempted cover-up after her death.

Jessica Smochek was gang-raped in Bangladesh in 2004.  This is how the Peace Corps gave her aid afterward; not only medical malpractice, but they blamed her. For being gang-raped (emphasis mine):

Peace Corps medical officer refused to give her a proper physical examination. Instead, the medic confiscated the former English teacher’s cellphone so that she could not alert her fellow volunteers and instructed her to tell anyone who asked about her sudden departure from the program that she was returning to the U.S. to get her wisdom teeth out. When Smochek arrived in Washington, D.C., a Peace Corps official asked her to write down everything she had done to provoke the attack.

“Shortly after I left, the country director — who never attempted to contact me after I was raped — called a meeting of several women in my former volunteer group and told them, without my permission, what had happened to me,” she said. “Then, he told them that rape was a woman’s fault and that I had caused what happened to me by being out alone after 5:00 PM.As for the other women in the group, who had been very vocal about being constantly stalked and afraid, he threatened them with administrative separation.”

Jessica was one of the courageous women who testified before Congress on Wednesday. You know, that same Congress that contains members more concerned with loss of funding than the actual women, and the violent crimes committed against them, themselves.

Commentary Magazine asks “where are the feminists?” While the hypocrisy is, as always, staggering, that’s not a question I’d bother asking. Who cares where they are? It’s clear that “feminists”, and Democrats, are not For The Women ™ and they have never been. From their embracing of Obamacare, which harms women, to their frantic scurrying to cover up the exploitation of young girls by Planned Parenthood, it is painfully apparent that the end justifies the means to them. Agendas and liberal programs mean all; actual women mean nothing. And, as always, feminist groups do not speak for women, nor should we expect nor want them to. Ever.

The question that should be asked is why the Peace Corps is receiving $400 million in taxpayer funds a year.

Politics Daily points out the original reasoning for the creation of the Peace Corps:

In a 1986 interview, Peace Corps founding director Sargent Shriver, who was hospitalized Monday, described his organization’s raison d’être this way:

When [Gen. Augusto] Pinochet came into power a lot of Peace Corps volunteers were in Chile and they started protesting Pinochet and writing letters to newspapers. I was criticized in Washington for the actions of these volunteers. My response was that we should rejoice that we are the only country in the world that had the vision to send abroad people who are not under government control. Instead, they are independent free-standing human beings. I maintain that they are the greatest advertisement for the American system of government that there is in the world, they are worth a thousand Coca-Cola signs. There is no better advertisement for what this country stands for than an individual Peace Corps volunteer walking down the street unarmed, wearing the same clothes that the people do, eating the same food, living the same life, and being there as an independent free-standing person who believes in democracy and who is compassionate to his fellow man.

Maybe – and I’m not even convinced of this – that was all fine and dandy 40 years ago. Today, not so much. The world isn’t all unicorns and fairy dust. Moreover, this goodwill ambassadorship stuff doesn’t work, right? Doesn’t the world’s view of Americans change based on whether there is a Republican or a Democrat in the White House? I mean, that’s what we are told, over and over. The world hated us merely because, Bush. For years. And now they totally heart us again because, The One, right?

The world is a dangerous place sometimes. And sending women to places that are known dangers without adequate, or even mediocre for cripes sake, support is beyond irresponsible. Especially if the organization itself is complicit in the violence perpetrated against the women who volunteer for them. And, in fact, exacerbates the harm to the women by not only attempting to hide the crimes, but by blaming the victims. Taxpayer money should in no way be used to support violence against women, nor the revolting covering up of the same.

Originally posted at That’s What She Said, Cross-posted at RedState

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My brother served in the Peace Corps in Africa. I worked abroad as an English teacher in Taiwan, Korea, and a college lecturer in China. The contrast couldn’t be more different. My brother had no clear idea of what his job was, wasn’t meaningfully evaluated or instructed by his “managers”, was in incredibly unsafe surroundings without support if something went wrong, and although his employment was incredibly expensive for the taxpayers, he earned little. My private-sector experience abroad was completely different. I made my own choices about where I worked, did meaningful work and earned plenty of money, as well as enjoying the opportunity to learn foreign languages and travel at will. And it didn’t cost the taxpayers a dime.

Young people don’t believe when I tell them how easy it is to work and travel on their own. Kids, you don’t need to be government employees in order to have a life-changing experience!

joe_doufu on May 16, 2011 at 6:10 PM

So very sad. The Peace Corps actually was once a noble and helpful organization. Now…they’re little better than a volunteer version of the UN.

Uncle Sams Nephew on May 16, 2011 at 8:17 PM

Oh yeah, and they’re also useless. When a tsunami or earthquake ravages some poor country, do they say “Send in the Peace Corps!”? Of course not. The Peace Corps volunteers are not skilled, not trained, and in no way shape or form would their federal nannies want them to be sent anywhere where there might be risk and work to be done. Insurance probably doesn’t cover it. We have the Red Cross, and the Marines, for that kind of thing.

That alone illustrates how ridiculous the Peace Corps has become.

joe_doufu on May 17, 2011 at 2:13 AM

I had no idea. Thanks for the info. I’m definitely sharing this.

itsnotaboutme on May 17, 2011 at 5:56 AM

joe_doufu on May 16, 2011 at 6:10 PM

Ditto. I heard about Deb last year on some TV program and was appalled. I’ve been of the opinon for the last 10 years or so that PC was a waste, but after Deb’s story, I was all for total disbanding. Glad Congress is hearing the case against PC and hopefully it goes on the chopping block with the next congressional session, if not now.

AH_C on May 17, 2011 at 8:02 AM