Charity groups whose missions are to protect vulnerable people around the world have been complicit in the sex abuse of women and children, a major report by members of parliament in the U.K. has concluded.
The massive report, presented on Tuesday by Stephen Twigg, chairman of the International Development Committee, condemned the aid sector as a whole for failing to live up to expectations of improving safeguarding practices, despite repeated promises.
“Sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers and peacekeepers is happening in the aid sector and it has been happening for a long time,” a summary of the report said.
“It is particularly horrifying to find evidence of personnel from the aid and security sectors perpetrating these abuses rather than combating them. Reports have regularly shown this kind of sexual exploitation and abuse being perpetrated across different countries, organizations and institutions, principally in humanitarian crises.
“At its core, sexual exploitation and abuse is an abuse of power and the power imbalance is predominantly, although not exclusively, men abusing women and girls. Due to confirmed under-reporting, the exact scale is currently impossible to define, but practitioners suspect that those cases which have come to light are only the ‘tip of the iceberg.'”
The report stressed that it is a “systemic” problem with dozens of organizations having been implicated and noted that “staff at every level, from guards and drivers to senior managers, were identified as having been involved.”
Charity groups were accused of showing an inability to deal with allegations and complaints involving sex harassment and abuse. And there has been a tendency to punish victims and whistleblowers, rather than perpetrators.
The government report insisted that collectively, the aid sector has been aware of sex abuse by its own staff for years, but has not given it as much attention as needed.
“Repeatedly, reports of sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers and/or peacekeepers have emerged, the sector has reacted, but then the focus has faded. This episodic response has led to the existence of safeguarding policies and procedures that have never been effectively implemented,” it described.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Stoyan Zaimov