MAPUTO — A US Peace Corps volunteer was raped at knife-point in central Mozambique, police said Wednesday, as the US Congress prepared to open hearings into the safety of the agency’s volunteers worldwide.
The 30-year-old woman was attacked while walking with a Mozambican friend shortly before midnight on May 1 in the central city of Chimoio, said provincial police spokesman Belmiro Mutadiwa.
“The attackers took some possessions… and raped her,” Mutadiwa told AFP.
Police later arrested one of the alleged attackers, aged 25, after the victim’s companion identified him, Mutadiwa said.
The victim was taken to hospital in the southern African country’s capital, Maputo, and was receiving assistance from the US embassy, Mutadiwa said.
The embassy declined to comment on the attack.
The Peace Corps, a US government programme that sends volunteers to work on development projects overseas, has come under increasing scrutiny over the safety of its 8,655 volunteers.
The US House of Representatives is set to open hearings into Peace Corps safety issues Wednesday after TV news programme “20/20” reported in January that corps management had not adequately responded to cases of sexual assault of its volunteers.
The programme said more than 1,000 volunteers had been raped or sexually abused in the past decade and reported on allegations that the agency had mishandled sexual assault complaints.
The Peace Corps has 203 volunteers working on health and education projects in Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries.
A 2006 survey found 54 percent of Mozambican women have been victims of physical or sexual violence.