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.