Oxfam Sacks 79 Staff In Wake Of Haiti Sex Abuse Scandal

The charity is on a drive to improve its work culture.

Oxfam has dismissed 79 staff for offences including sexual harassment, bullying and exploitation after receiving nearly 300 complaints in the last year.

The global figures are part of the charity’s ten-point action plan to improve its safeguarding work and culture and come after the 2018 Haiti scandal which saw staff complain of “racism, colonial behaviour and bullying behaviours”.

Of the 294 safeguarding reports Oxfam received, 221 are closed and 73 remain under investigation. Those closed comprise:

  • 23 cases of sexual abuse;
  • 25 cases of exploitation (including actions such as paying for sex);
  • 74 cases of sexual harassment;
  • 98 cases of other forms of misconduct (such as bullying);
  • One case where information was not provided.

The Independent Commission that Oxfam set up in March 2018 to review its culture and safeguarding will publish its final report in June, following visits to nine countries.

An interim report in the wake of the Haiti scandal to assess the company’s culture, found it to have a “toxic work environment”. It followed allegations of sexual assault by staff in the country in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.

A lack of “robust policies and procedures” across the charity also led to a culture in which sexual misconduct could be misunderstood at best or, at worst, unaddressed, it said.

Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said: “Oxfam is a different organisation today than it was 14 months ago when we launched our ten-point action plan. We have underpinned our unconditional apologies for the specific mistakes we made in Haiti in 2011 with real action. We’re determined to learn, cooperate and improve and I believe we’re beginning to see the tangible results.

“I believe that Oxfam staff now have a fundamentally deeper appreciation of what is acceptable behaviour and what is not, and more trust in the new processes that we have in challenging it.

“We realise we have so much more to do. There is no ‘job done’ end date. We strive always to be a better organisation – not a perfect one. Changing culture takes time, but we are on that permanent journey of understanding, self-reflection and transformations, both the subtle and the profound.”


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