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Oxfam sex abuse criticism disproportionate, chief executive says

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Oxfam sex abuse criticism disproportionate, chief executive says

By Alistair Smout

 

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An Oxfam sign is seen on a kiosk that was used to distribute water in Corail, a camp for displaced people of the 2010 earthquake, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares

 

LONDON (Reuters) - Oxfam's chief executive said criticism of the charity following a sex abuse scandal had been disproportionate, according to comments published on Saturday.

 

In an interview with British daily the Guardian, Mark Goldring again apologised over allegations of sexual abuse by Oxfam staff in Haiti, which broke last week and have shaken the whole aid sector.

 

"(But) the intensity and ferocity of the attacks makes you wonder, what did we do? We murdered babies in their cots?," he was quoted as saying.

 

"Certainly the scale and intensity of the attacks feels out of proportion to the level of culpability."

 

UK-based Oxfam, one of the world's biggest disaster relief charities, has neither confirmed nor denied the Haiti allegations but has said an internal investigation in 2011 confirmed unspecified sexual misconduct occurred.

 

It has also agreed not to bid for any new state funding until Britain's government is satisfied the charity meets appropriate ethical standards, development minister Penny Mordaunt said on Friday.

 

"Anything we say is being manipulated... We've been savaged," Goldring also told the Guardian, which ran a full-page ad from the charity saying sorry for the "appalling behaviour that happened in our name".

 

The CEO's comments drew rebukes on Twitter, including from former interior minister Jacqui Smith, who posted: "Dear Mark Goldring. You're not the victim here."

 

Haiti's president told Reuters on Friday that sexual misconduct by Oxfam staff was only the tip of an "iceberg" and called for investigations into Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) and other aid organisations that came to the country after a devastating earthquake in 2010.

 

Doctors Without Borders said on Wednesday it had dealt with 24 cases of sexual harassment or abuse among its 40,000 staff last year, and dismissed 19 people as a result.

 

Britain has said it will deny cash to aid organisations that fail to come clean on abuse.

 

But Prime Minister Theresa May said it would continue to meet its legal obligation to spend 0.7 percent of economic output on international development.

 

She made the comment in a speech in Munich on Saturday, in which did not directly address the allegations against Oxfam and other charities.

 

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2018-02-18
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2 hours ago, FreddieRoyle said:

 This is quite incredible. These aid agencies have been caught abusing the most vulnerable and desperate members of deprived societies, and rather than make grovelling apologies and try to regain some credibility by supporting full prosecution of the sick abusers, we get them essentially playing the victim card. Criticism is disproportionate. Sick, sick, sick. Not only Oxfam we have the hideous Brendan Cox from Hope not Hate(how incredibly ironic!) and Tariq Ramadam also offering excuses and weaseling around the serious sex crime charges leveled at them.

 This goes beyond a few virtue signalling perverts. Charity may never recover from this - much like the catholic church. Forever ruined by mishandling of sexual abuse of the vulnerable.

Hookers are "the most vulnerable and desperate members of deprived societies"?   Really?

 

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5 hours ago, Samui Bodoh said:

Respectfully, you are taking a sledge-hammer to kill a fly. Yes, those people who abused the most vulnerable should have the book thrown at them, but to discredit all of OxFam's (and others) great work is plain wrong.

 

I worked in the non-profit sector for many years and saw firsthand the sheer number of people who worked in shitty situations and among the worst possible conditions to assist those in need. Further, I rarely saw anyone who worked less than a 12 hour day (everyday!) and did so for a salary that is far, far below what the complainers have gotten. There are very few people who are willing to go into a disaster area to help and we should laud them, not slam them with a blanket condemnation.

 

Finally, I find the comparison to the Catholic Church to be odious. The charities do try to ensure that their staff behave in an exemplary manner, and the vast, vast majority do. The Catholic Church just transferred their staff to another location where they committed the same crimes again and again.

 

Yes, the non- profits need to do better, but they ALREADY do better than most organizations in the world.

 

 

The issue is the Oxfam Deputy CEO resigned over this. Now the CEO, who presumably didn't feel responsible, is as Ms. Smith points out playing the victim card because Oxfam he feels, shouldn't be criticized so harshly. Most of that harsh comment is aimed at the way it was handled and attempts to keep it quiet. Something as CEO, he ought to feel some responsibility for.

 

Many charity donors and supporters no longer donate to Oxfam as the proportion of donations actually reaching the intended recipients is tiny compared to how much goes in "costs". Maybe the CEO should be addressing that.

 

I appreciate the work of the third sector, charities, and NGO's and have spoken at several aid conferences organized in Asia with the UN. I am not anti aid or charity. But there is a lot wrong with Oxfam and the current CEO ought to be taking positive actions rather than constantly defending the positions.

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28 minutes ago, Tapster said:

Argh!

Again, there's no sense of proportion!

Damn the ultra-liberals and/or 3rd wave feminazis!

 

There is no evidence at all of underage sex workers/victims. Saying "it cannot be ruled out" isn't evidence.

 

Using prostitutes may not be to everyone's moral taste, but it is an individual disciplinary matter.............except nowadays it isn't!

 

Are prostitutes automatically to be regarded as victims and people who pay for sex as abusers?

 

The one thing which is black and white is using the charity's money to pay prostitutes. Now that is taking the piss!

 

 

 

It's about people being funded by charitable donations using that money inappropriately, possibly. 

 

And about the possible/probably exploitation of people in a very vulnerable situation by those who are allegedly there to help.

 

Or are you suggesting that all the prostitutes used were active sex workers, before the natural disaster shattered their lives?

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The more you research the more it gets unpleasant.

Maybe the CEO should learn from another well known charity

Medicins Sans Frontieres, Doctors Without Borders.

They manage to discipline its staff due to inappropriate behaviour.

Ignorance is no excuse for poor man management, getting caught is simply part of the process, rectifying the issue’s is where these CEO’s and others at the top should be focusing on.


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@Baerboxer

 

1 hour ago, Baerboxer said:

Or are you suggesting that all the prostitutes used were active sex workers, before the natural disaster shattered their lives?

 

The honest answer is that we don't know, do we?

 

My angle on this is to lament the knee-jerk assumptions made, to rail against automatic condemnation and to allow those involved a presumption of innocence.

 

KiChakayan reports above, that it is certainly not unknown for agency workers in distant (and probably not so distant) lands to avail themselves of paid female companionship.

On that issue, I say who are we to judge, all other things being equal/fair/non-exploitative.

 

 

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7 hours ago, FreddieRoyle said:

 This is quite incredible. These aid agencies have been caught abusing the most vulnerable and desperate members of deprived societies, and rather than make grovelling apologies and try to regain some credibility by supporting full prosecution of the sick abusers, we get them essentially playing the victim card. Criticism is disproportionate. Sick, sick, sick. Not only Oxfam we have the hideous Brendan Cox from Hope not Hate(how incredibly ironic!) and Tariq Ramadam also offering excuses and weaseling around the serious sex crime charges leveled at them.

 This goes beyond a few virtue signalling perverts. Charity may never recover from this - much like the catholic church. Forever ruined by mishandling of sexual abuse of the vulnerable.

Off topic, but the demonisation of Brendan Cox is truly disgusting. A far right brexiteer murdered his wife because she had the audacity to speak up about the folly of Brexit; now the right wing rump are continuing the assaults on him because he was not cowed into silence. 

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12 hours ago, Samui Bodoh said:

Respectfully, you are taking a sledge-hammer to kill a fly. Yes, those people who abused the most vulnerable should have the book thrown at them, but to discredit all of OxFam's (and others) great work is plain wrong.

 

I worked in the non-profit sector for many years and saw firsthand the sheer number of people who worked in shitty situations and among the worst possible conditions to assist those in need. Further, I rarely saw anyone who worked less than a 12 hour day (everyday!) and did so for a salary that is far, far below what the complainers have gotten. There are very few people who are willing to go into a disaster area to help and we should laud them, not slam them with a blanket condemnation.

 

Finally, I find the comparison to the Catholic Church to be odious. The charities do try to ensure that their staff behave in an exemplary manner, and the vast, vast majority do. The Catholic Church just transferred their staff to another location where they committed the same crimes again and again.

 

Yes, the non- profits need to do better, but they ALREADY do better than most organizations in the world.

 

Samui you have missed the whole point, the poor hard workers are never questioned, it is always the ones above the workers, that put the blame elsewhere

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