The Peace Corps says it will immediately replace a training video currently in use and obtained by ABC News in which rape victims appear on camera describing what they had done wrong to bring on sexual assault.
"Independently of what the producers of this video intended, I am afraid its take-away message is that if you are raped, then surely it is because you made poor choices," said Harvard psychology professor Mary Harvey in a letter to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which held a hearing Wednesday on violence against Peace Corps volunteers. "This video, rather than preventing rape, has the potential to harm rape victims."
The tape, called "Serving Safely," was shot starting in 2002, according to a Peace Corps spokesperson, and has been in use since 2004. According to an affidavit submitted to Congress by a current Peace Corps volunteer, the tape was shown to incoming volunteers within the past month.
WATCH the training video. Some names and faces have been blurred.
The ten-minute tape opens with a narrator saying that while Peace Corps service can be "uniquely rewarding and fulfilling … there are safety issues associated with your service as well. "
A Peace Corps official then appears on camera to say, "Being a Peace Corps volunteer is not without risk. Unfortunately, sexual assaults do occur among our volunteers and we do need to take the necessary precautions to reduce that risk."
The narrator follows with a series of statistics about sexual assault. According to the tape, about 4,000 of the 7,000 new volunteers each year are women, and between 1993 and the making of the tape, an average of 35 volunteers "experienced a major sexual assault" each year.
The tape then notes that a significant number of attacks, 43 percent are committed by a friend or acquaintance, and that 50 percent of attacks "involved alcohol," though it does not specify who is using the alcohol. It also says that 85 percent of those assaulted were alone at the time of the attack.