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Oxfam Scandal

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February 17, 2018

What is the issue?

  • Oxfam International is following an opaque mechanism in regulating its employers involved in Haiti scandal.
  • Due to this agency faces an uncertain future for its International support and funding.

What is Oxfam International?

  • Oxfam is a confederation of 20 independent charitable organizations around the world.
  • It is based in UK but it has its operation across 90 countries.
  • Oxfam international releases global inequality report annually.
  • Around the globe, Oxfam works to find practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive.
  • Oxfam works with partner organizations and alongside vulnerable women and men to end the injustices that cause poverty.

What was the role of Oxfam in Haiti?

  • In 2010, A 7.1 magnitude earthquake devastated the island of Haiti, killing over 220,000 and injuring over 30,000.
  • During this disaster billions of dollars of aid poured in, with international aid organisations playing a pivotal role in the recovery and relief effort.
  • Among those to take a lead role was Oxfam, the Oxford-based charity, which had a Rs.629 crore fund for its relief efforts in the country.

What are the scandals of Oxfam?

  • During the relief operations in Haiti many employees of Oxfam has indulged in sexual abuse on women and children as young as 14.
  • It also emerged that one of the alleged perpetrators had faced allegations while working in Chad for Oxfam, but had still been assigned to Haiti following the earthquake
  • Moreover, some of the men were able to get jobs at other organisations in contact with vulnerable people.
  • UK’s Charity Commission had failed to report incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse and that the scale of abuse was likely to be far wider than was being reported to Oxfam.

What are the actions taken in this regard?

  • The scandal has already triggered the resignation of the charity’s deputy head, while corporate sponsors are urgently seeking clarity on the situation.
  • The charity had allowed three senior male staff to resign following an inquiry into sexual transgression, and fired four others for gross misconduct and bullying.
  • RecentlyBritain’s charity regulator the Charity Commission opened a statutory inquiry into Oxfam.
  • This includes concerns that the charity had not “fully and frankly” disclosed materials about the allegations at the time.

What are the challenges in taking actions on Oxfam?

  • Oxfam has a “strong policy framework” for protecting staff and beneficiaries from sexual exploitation and abuse.
  • The Oxfam aid is being used by the beneficial nations to expand their trade and national interests, so they are hesitant to take any action against the charity.
  • The Charity Commission and government departments of UK are not even ready to any disciplinary action against the organisation even within their territory.
  • The charity is strongly backed by UK’s political forces and no international proceedings has been initiated against the organisation.
  • Thus it is hard to confront the issue of sexual abuse and exploitation across the aid sector in Britain and beyond.

 

Source: Business Line

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