In recent weeks we’ve heard of the sexual misconduct of aid workers in various countries working under the Oxfam banner. These workers were accused of soliciting vulnerable populations for sex in exchange for humanitarian supplies. Apparently this is what has been happening for quite some time now. What’s more appalling is that some of the executives at Oxfam knew this was happening and did nothing about it. But why, do you ask? DONATIONS. The executives of Oxfam knew that if their extremely wealthy donors were to find out about what was going on, they would pull the funding immediately. That means that probably almost everyone would be out of a job and the NGO would be done. But honestly, I don’t how any organization that can recover from this. Maybe some donors will side with Oxfam and their elitism and make excuses as to why nothing was done but they’re doing such good work! This is unfortunately a blind spot that big donors choose to see from. But even if they did believe it, they would separate the people from the top from the people on the ground and blame a poorly vetting process that in entirely out of the control of higher ups. There are a variety of explanations that can be used to make people believe that Oxfam is innocent.
Oxfam claims to do many things for impoverished countries that have a population that has been affected by horrible tragedies. One of them is empowering women. It’s kind of ironic. Are they empowered first then abused later? Whatever the case may be they are obviously not living up to their mission by no stretch of the imagination. This is the problem with huge international NGOs, because they are so wealthy and they have a high paid staff, they tend to operate more like a corporation than a humanitarian organization. People tend to think that the bigger the NGO or non profit and the more countries they’re in, the more good work is done. That’s not always the case and I know Oxfam is not the only NGO with this scandal. The beacon of humanitarian issues residing in New York, the United Nations. They have scandal after scandal of UN Peacekeepers raping women and children in various countries where the UN works. They are well aware of this and say they are looking into it but the scandals continue. This is not a new phenomena, this is lack of transparency.
Donors, funders and grantors for these big NGOs must request full transparency from their daily operations and activities. Victims who speak out should not be silenced, they should get justice. It’s understandable that you can’t know what everyone is doing at all times but when you know something bad is happening you must act. If you are complacent you will most definitely be accused of enforcing it. Some people tend to romanticize big international NGOs into the saviour for every man, woman and child. And sometimes it’s because of this that they give blindly without asking questions and just assume that they’re money is going to help children in Africa or women suffering abuse, etc. We should no longer allow these big powerful entities to dictate what human rights looks like with impunity and non disclosure. Lack of transparency means abuses continue without justice, vulnerable populations are under the control of a poorly vetted system of aid workers and victims have no voice. So before you give to an Oxfam or any other huge NGO, ask questions, do research, request full transparency so you can make and informed decision. Make sure they are who they say they are.
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