Oxfam Canada Statement on Sexual Misconduct in Haiti in 2011
In 2011, several Oxfam UK staff were accused of sexual exploitation and abuse in Haiti during the earthquake response. Their behavior was totally unacceptable – an appalling mark against the high values we set for ourselves at Oxfam.
At the time, Oxfam Great Britain operated separately from Oxfam Canada. As far as we know, no money or personnel from Oxfam Canada were involved in this case.
Oxfam’s priority is to stand with the women and girls who experienced this exploitation, and ensure that sexual misconduct is rooted out of our organization. Our work advancing women’s rights, especially in situations of vulnerability, is central to Oxfam’s identity. As an organization fighting for women’s rights around the world, we have a special responsibility to protect our staff, partners, volunteers and people we work with from sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse.
This was a case of a group of privileged men abusing those they were meant to protect. They also abused the trust of the people of Haiti, the dedicated Oxfam staff working around the world, and the many people who support Oxfam’s work.
Oxfam Canada has strong systems in place to protect people from this kind of abuse. In addition to our strong policies and oversight, we also have banded together with other Oxfams to strengthen our safeguards, including having a dedicated Safeguarding Team, a confidential whistleblowing line and more comprehensive policies. These measures help Oxfam better protect people from abuse, sexual harassment and exploitation, and prevent it from happening in the first place.
As members of this organization, we are absolutely committed to our work and Oxfam’s values. We feel betrayed by these abusers. We are committed to real change in ensuring that all Oxfams better handle cases of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse, and to how we support survivors.
We know we share values with our volunteers and supporters: integrity, justice and support for women’s equality. These people betrayed those shared values. We hope we can rebuild the trust of our supporters who know, as we do, that the actions of a few do not represent all that Oxfam stands for.