Source: Oxfam New Zealand – Press Release/Statement:
Headline: Oxfam’s reaction to the The Times sexual misconduct story in Haiti
In 2011 some members of Oxfam Great Britain staff in Haiti acted in a way that was totally unacceptable and is the most appalling mark against the high values we set ourselves at Oxfam.
Oxfam’s priority is to stand fully by the survivors of such reprehensible behavior – and to ensure that such behavior is absolutely rooted out of our organization. We stand firmly against the exploitation and abuse of women and girls.
As soon as we became aware of the allegations we immediately launched an internal investigation. Our primary aim was always to formally investigate and take action against those involved and we publicly announced, including to media, both the investigation and the action we took as a result. Four members of staff were dismissed as a result of the investigation and three, including the country director, resigned before the end of the investigation. Allegations that underage girls may have been involved were not proven.
Oxfam has not and would not provide a positive reference for any of those that were dismissed or resigned as a result of the case. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to stop individuals falsifying references, or former or current Oxfam staff that worked with the individual providing a reference in a personal capacity.
That the event took place seven years ago and involved a small number of Oxfam Great Britain staff is no cause for complacency for any Oxfam. This is not the first story of sexual misconduct Oxfam Great Britain, the largest Oxfam, has faced in recent months.
Globally, we in Oxfam, know we have not done enough to change our own culture and to create the strongest possible policies to prevent harassment and protect people we work with around the world. We are doing that now with all our effort.
Oxfam learned from this case and today has a global and dedicated Safeguarding approach with a best practice package of measures to ensure to the best of our ability we protect all our staff, prevent sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse happening in the first place.
We have a Global Taskforce on Prevention of Sexual Harassment, Exploitation & Abuse that is co-chaired by our Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima.
We want to use this opportunity to reiterate that our confidential ‘whistleblowing’ line is available to all Oxfam staff and all the people we work with, wherever we work. We know the only way to change culture and make the safeguarding system work is to be open and transparent about it.
We hope we can rebuild our trust with our supporters who know, as we do, that the actions of a few do not represent all that Oxfam stands for.