Oxfam Scandal:What has gone wrong with foreign aid?  

Photo from @TimesPictures on Twitter

Photo from @TimesPictures on Twitter

There are two victims in this situation, the people who were seeking aid and the supporters of those people. Using vulnerability as a way to exploit the people of Haiti makes you question their humanity and character. Roland Van Hauwermeiren, former Oxfam director denies allegations of paying for sex, but admits he has made some “mistakes.” Do those “mistakes” involve inappropriate conduct with women in exchange for essentials they need to survive? Roland Hauwermeiren who was in charge of the mission in Haiti, hired sex workers in 2011 and also dealt with sex worker in Chad in 2009. The organization knew of these allegations and four years laters, hired him to work in Haiti. Since The Times London broke the story about the sex scandal, Oxfam has lost 7,000 donors. 

Oxfam is an organization that focuses on poverty eradication, disaster relief, advocacy, policy research and pro-migration. There have been accounts of sex parties with prostitutes in staff housing and using their predicament as motive to use them at their own personal disposal. Does that sound like the work of volunteers who are supposed to provide aid and assistance during difficult times of need? 

Mark Suller, an associate professor of Anthropology at Northern Illinois University states, “It’s true that this may well be the beginning of a #MeToo movement in Haiti and hopefully elsewhere in the world where reward structures of the aid industry reinforce inequality, imperialism and patriarchy.”  

When did the aid industry stop doing what they supposedly stood for? 

Is there a way to regain the trust of the countries they have let down?

Even though the scandal that was exposed in Haiti was disturbing, it was not an incident that isn’t uncommon to the public. Exploitation in these aid corporations range from sexual harassment, buying sex to bartering for sex, sex with a minor and rape. Oxfam is not the only organization to have allegations brought to the light. The UN peacemakers also had similar scandals. Charities have policies that prohibit sexual exploitation, but how does this behavior continue? 

The application of these policies is why staff workers rarely face consequences and the victims do not receive the justice they deserve. Seeking solutions for sexual exploitation, the Blue Helmets were created, which was a high level task force. But more needs to be done to filter out those who have no desire to help and aid those in need. Background checks, professional training, and private investigators to overlook the cases involving sexual abuse with staff workers. 

    Where is the empathy and humanity in the world? We have to step up and do better by each other. When there is an injustice being done we have to speak up for those who are put into situations where they are overlooked. How can we rebuild, not just the country, but the world if we cannot look to our neighbors for help and assistance? We are in an era that is filled with suffering, bloodshed and corruption, but there is still hope to spark that movement of change. The challenge now is to find it and help it to evolve. 

Article by Kalyn Kearney 

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