Last Update 22:21
Thursday, 22 February 2018

UK's Oxfam faces more pressure after new report of sex abuse by aid workers

Reuters , Tuesday 13 Feb 2018
Share/Bookmark
Views: 861
Share/Bookmark
Views: 861

British aid organisation Oxfam faced fresh pressure on Tuesday after a former senior member of staff said her concerns about "a culture of sexual abuse" involving aid workers in some the organisation's offices had been ignored.

Helen Evans, who was in charge of investigating allegations against Oxfam staff members between 2012 and 2015, told Channel 4 television that abuse cases she had heard of included a woman who had been coerced to have sex in exchange for aid.

Another involved an assault on a teenage volunteer by a staff member in a charity shop in Britain, she said.

A survey of Oxfam staff in three countries including South Sudan showed around 10 percent of staff had been sexually assaulted and others had witnessed or experienced rape or attempted rape by colleagues, Evans said.

Evans, who headed a "safeguarding" section responsible for protecting staff and the people Oxfam works with, spoke of frustration that her calls for more support for her team were not taken seriously enough.

"I felt that our failure to adequately resource was putting people at risk," she said in an interview broadcast by Channel 4 late on Monday. "I struggle to understand why they didn't respond immediately to that call for additional resource."

One of the best-known international NGOs, with aid programmes running across the globe, Oxfam is under threat of losing its British government funding over the sexual misconduct allegations.

Asked about Evans's allegations, Oxfam said her work had spurred the organisation into taking concrete steps to improve the way it deals with "safeguarding" issues.

"We regret that we did not act on Helen's concerns much quicker and with more resources," the statement said.

"We have doubled the number of people to four in our dedicated safeguarding team and we are in the process of recruiting two extra staff."

The deputy head of Oxfam resigned on Monday over what she said was the British charity's failure to adequately respond to past allegations of sexual misconduct by some of its staff in Haiti and Chad.

The scandal is escalating into a broader crisis for Britain's aid sector by bolstering critics in the ruling Conservative Party who have argued that the government should reduce spending on aid in favour of domestic priorities.

Aid minister Penny Mordaunt threatened on Sunday to withdraw government funding from Oxfam unless it gave the full facts about events in Haiti.

After meeting Oxfam officials on Monday, Mordaunt said she had written to all British charities working overseas to demand that "they step up and do more, so that we have absolute assurance that the moral leadership, the systems, the culture and the transparency that are needed."

Britain's Charity Commission launched a statutory inquiry on Monday, saying it had concerns that Oxfam "may not have fully and frankly disclosed material details about the allegations at the time in 2011, its handling of the incidents since, and the impact that these have both had on public trust and confidence". 

Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's
Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
Latest

© 2010 Ahram Online.