Oxfam Sex Claims Are Just Symptoms Of Deeper Scandal

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Written By Mostafa Moradi

Oxfam says seven thousand people have stopped making regular donations to the charity since details of a shocking sex scandal emerged.

The story has stunned people worldwide who dig deep into their pockets to give a little cash to help the charity provide relief to the hungry, thirsty and homeless.

The scandal started with news that senior Oxfam officials in Haiti invited local sex workers to wild parties in 2011.

After an internal inquiry, four aid workers were fired for gross misconduct and another three resigned.

This was only the start. After more digging, similar allegations about Oxfam senior staff in the African country of Chad came to the surface.

Public money at stake

After meetings with minister Penny Mordaunt in London, questions in Parliament and more people coming forward to make claims of sexual misconduct, Oxfam’s deputy chief executive Penny Lawrence resigned.

With millions of pounds of public money at stake, the net has spread wider, to other countries and charities.

“I wasn’t surprised by the revelations. This is a sector-wide problem,” said Megan Nobert, a human rights lawyer and founder of Report the Abuse, a project that researched sexual offenses by aid staffers from 2015 to 2017. “It’s one that’s affecting not just Oxfam but the United Nations and small non-government organisations.”

Allegations of sexual impropriety have dogged the aid sector for years but have been kept behind closed doors.

In recent weeks, 10 more incidents of sexual exploitation or child abuse have emerged from the world’s leading aid agencies.

Bad conduct unresolved

The claims also involve peacekeepers sent in by the UN. A 2015 independent report on the U.N. peacekeepers’ sex crimes, for example, detailed a “gross institutional failure to respond to the allegations in a meaningful way.”

Oxfam has apologised and admitted poor conduct towards those aid workers should be protecting.

“We have not done enough to change our own culture and to create the strongest possible policies to prevent harassment and protect people we work with around the world,” said a statement.

The problem identified in the humanitarian sector is aid workers sacked by one agency can soon find work with another due to their experience, but their bad conduct record does not follow them.