Oxfam sex scandal

Missy sums up the Oxfam scandal:

The biggest story over this week in the UK has been the Oxfam sex scandal.

The story broke last Friday with an investigation by The Times newspaper into the exploitation of women and use of prostitutes by Oxfam workers in Haiti after the earthquake, despite prostitution being illegal in Haiti. The report also alleged that Oxfam covered the scandal up. The Times quoted a confidential report which stated “children may have been among those sexually exploited by aid workers”, and that there had been a “culture of impunity” among some staff in Haiti. Oxfam denied they covered it up and said that the allegations of underage girls possibly being involved were not proven.

Over the weekend as the story took hold it was alleged that aid workers were asking for sex for aid, this was also denied by Oxfam, though it has now been revealed that this was the case, not just with Oxfam workers but also other charities (not named) and the UN.

Since the initial report more revelations have come out, not just about Oxfam, but other charities. All allegations are around the exploitation of the local populations of places they have been providing aid to. The UN has also been implicated, as well as other large NGO’s, however other NGO’s have not been named in the media. The allegations against Oxfam workers has extended to their stores where sexual harassment is allegedly widespread.

A former head of Global safeguarding at Oxfam has revealed that allegations of rape, sexual harassment, and sex for aid were widespread. She also said that she regularly reported these allegations to the senior management and board, and the reports were routinely ignored.

The allegations have gone past Haiti with reports now of similar behaviour in Chad prior to the Haiti earthquake.

The Charities Commission said that they were aware that there was an issue with a few of the aid workers in Haiti, but they weren’t aware of the full scale of the scandal, or that there was widespread exploitation of the local populations – predominantly women.

On Monday Oxfam met with the Government and the Chief Executive has been given a week to provide a report and explanation to the Secretary of State for Foreign Aid, and the Government will reassess the Government contribution to Oxfam. The Government give approximately 32 million pounds to Oxfam annually.

This scandal has come at a time when many in the public are questioning the UK’s foreign aid budget and the amount of money that the Government gives in foreign aid. Many are calling for funding of Oxfam to be cut.

Inconclusive report on income/wealth gap

Oxfam are releasing a report today on the wealth gap in New Zealand. but it’s not clear what point they are trying to make.

RNZ: One percent of the population, 30 percent of the wealth

New Oxfam research shows the richest one percent of New Zealanders earned 28 percent of all the wealth created last year.

The research shows that the 1.4 million people who make up the poorest 30 percent of the population barely got one percent of the national growth in wealth.

The interview of Rachel le Mesurier didn’t really clear up confusion over income and wealth in the interview:


It’s worth listening to the interview to see how headline grabbing but vague this publicity is. Guyon Espiner asked le Mesurier what point they were trying to make and what solutions they were suggesting, but all she really did was intimate having a lot of wealth was bad and poor people were poor. She did talk vaguely about the tax working group doing something about things.

The charity’s executive director, Rachel le Mesurier, said the level of inequality in the past two years had remained the same.

“All around the world there has been a significant shift [of] wealth, particularly around property, and that’s something that many New Zealanders will be familiar with.

“In many cases … people have become wealthier with actually not having to work very hard for it … This is not fair, we should be rewarding work and not wealth.”

Ms le Mesurier told Morning Report the gap between the extremely rich and the rest of the population was unacceptable.

“The poorest proportion of our society really gained no extra benefit from that new wealth last year.”

“One of the reasons [the gap has increased] is property prices … but there are others.”

So forcing property prices down would close the ‘gap’, but how could it actually help poorer people?

Espiner asked her what would change if the wealth of the wealthiest New Zealander was redistributed and she diidn’t have much to say about it.

“We’ve got a tax working group. We’re very keen for New Zealand to have a conversation about tax – what is fair tax, what is balanced tax?

“A good number of [global] billionaires don’t necessarily work hard … Two-thirds of them have either been to build on their inheritance, they’ve actually got a monopoly.”

I’m not sure how the tax working group can recommend changes that will ensure those who work the hardest are taxed the least.

Oxfam: rich versus poor

Yesterday in New Zealand media ran a story from Oxfam that tried to compare a few rich people with a lot of poor people.

RNZ: Top 1% of NZers own 20% of wealth

The country’s two wealthiest people own the same amount as the poorest 30 percent in New Zealand.

And the richest 1 percent of New Zealanders own 20 percent of wealth, while 90 percent of the population owns less than half of the nation’s wealth.

Oxfam New Zealand executive director Rachael Le Mesurier said it was shocked to discover the wealth inequity in this country, saying it was trapping huge numbers of people in poverty and fracturing societies, citing the drop in home ownership rates as one example.

“New Zealanders love fairness, not inequality. The government should be tackling inequality here and globally, by cracking down on tax avoidance wherever it is, and using that money to make our country, and the global economy, a fairer place. This wouldn’t just be the right thing to do, a more fair economy would also be simple common sense and enormously popular with New Zealanders,” she said.

The Oxfam research highlighted the gap between the wealth of individuals, rather than disposable incomes.

There is an issue of concern about growing income and wealth disparities, and Oxfam succeeded in getting headlines, but they are making comparisons that are vague, and the solutions are more vague.

It is dog whistle type politics, trying to denegrate people with higher levels of wealth and higher earnings – ‘ rich peoeple bad’ sort of thing.

What do they propose? Taking all the wealth off the wealthy – and with the two they named here much of that wealth is probably not in New Zealand – and distribute it to all the poor babies who deserve it?

I have no idea whether Oxfam are comparing the wealth of fifty years olds to fifteen year olds or five year olds. Who are the poorest 30% here?

New Zealand should strive to improve life and opportunities for poorer people for sure, but I don’t know that Oxfam’s approach is going to help.

Oxfam said New Zealand’s findings were consistent with other countries where the gap between rich and poor was greater than previously thought.

It blamed big business and the extremely wealthy for the growing discrepancy, saying they fuelled the inequality crisis by avoiding taxes, driving down wages for their workers and the prices paid to producers and investing less in their businesses.

This sounds very much like big business bad – yes, there are issues that need addressing, but demonising all wealthy people and businesses makes no sense apart from populist appealing and squealing.

If businesses didn’t make profits they wouldn’t employ and pay people. Is that what Oxfam want?

As a charity Oxfam doesn’t pay tax, in New Zealand at least. Do they pay equal wages to all their employees?

This is a world wide campaign by Oxfam time to coincide with the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The Times: Eight men are richer than half the globe

Only eight billionaires have as much combined wealth as the poorest half of the world, according to Oxfam.

Six Americans, a Mexican telecoms entrepreneur and the Spanish founder of the Zara clothing chain are between them worth more than the 3.6 billion people who form the poorest half of the world’s population.

Oxfam released its latest report into the scale of global inequality to coincide with the start tomorrow of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where about 3,000 of the global business and political elite, including Theresa May and Philip Hammond, will gather for the annual meeting.

The forum has put inclusive growth and inequality on the agenda, but Oxfam has latched on to the backlash against the status quo.

I presume that a significant proportion of donations to Oxfam comes from people with higher wealth and incomes.

I used to donate regularly (automatic payments) to Oxfam, but stopped when they became more political.

I think there are real issues with income and wealth disparities, and with international tax avoidance.

I don’t think that trying to shame the rich with apples and oranges wealth comparisons will achieve much.