According to a UK government report published on Tuesday, sexual abuse of vulnerable women and girls by international aid workers is endemic and has been happening for years. The perpetrators easily move around in the aid sector.
The inquiry heard those horrifying stories of aid staff sexually exploiting the very people they were meant to be helping, which included a homeless female in Haiti who was given USD$1 by a worker for a Non-governmental Organization (NGO) and raped.
The Report by the House of Commons International Development Committee comes after historical allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct by employees of several top NGOs, which include Oxfam and Save the Children, surfaced this year. These allegations prompted the Committee to launch an inquiry into abuse in the aid sector. The report also found that sexual abuse and exploitation to be “endemic across the international aid sector” and targeted at both locals and staff members. Abuses ranged from unwanted sexual comments to rape.
The report said that the power imbalance among men and women which increase the chance of men abusing women and girls. It warned the cases had come to light were likely just the “tip of the iceberg”. Individuals known to be predatory or potentially dangerous were able to be undetected from one aid organization to another.
Caoline Thomson, the chair of trustees at Oxfam, said that the report was “incredibly painful reading”. She said she was sorry for the organization’s failure to protect vulnerable women in Haiti. She claimed that they have already made some improvements since 2011 but recognize they have further way to go.