Join us

Sign up to join a global movement of people working together to end the injustice of poverty.

By submitting above you agree to the Oxfam America privacy policy.

Thank you for joining!

Want us to keep you updated by text message? Provide us with your mobile phone number.

By submitting above you agree to the Oxfam America privacy policy.

Welcome to our community!

We’ll provide you with information and tools you need to take on the injustice of poverty.

Close

Preventing sexual abuse

The prevention of sexual abuse and harassment—of and by Oxfam staff—is critically important for our organization.

Recent reports on sexual misconduct cases in Haiti have led Oxfam to take a hard look at our past mistakes. We are committed to building a culture that does not tolerate abuse.​

What happened in Haiti

In 2011, Oxfam Great Britain staff in Haiti were accused of sexual exploitation and abuse. After an investigation by Oxfam later that year, four staff members were fired and three were allowed to resign, including the country director. As part of the investigation, Oxfam found that the country director had been involved in allegations of similar abuse in Chad in 2006. He took full responsibility for the misconduct that took place under his management. 

The government of Haiti has suspended Oxfam Great Britain's operations while they conduct their own investigation. Oxfam has apologized to the Haitian government and people for the actions of our former staff.

Today, Oxfam has zero tolerance for abuse of people in any form and we offer our support to victims of these egregious violations of our principles and values.

We take full responsibility for what happened in Haiti. You can read about the details of these events in our full internal report from 2011.

What is Oxfam doing now?

Oxfam is taking significant steps to address the underlying problems that allowed the events in Haiti to happen. These include:

Established a high-level independent commission that is reviewing cases of sexual misconduct and abuse of power:  Zainab Bangura, former United Nations under-secretary general, and Katherine Sierra, former World Bank vice-president serve as co-chairs. They lead a team of experienced women’s rights experts from the realms of business, government and civil society who are investigating any past or present cases of sexual abuse and harassment at Oxfam. The independent commission will share recommendations on what Oxfam and the wider aid sector can do to create a culture of zero tolerance for any kind of sexual harassment, abuse, or exploitation. The commission will publish an interim report by October 2018, where the public can read its findings and recommendations. The commission has set up a direct email: contact@independentcommission.org

Read about the commission, its members, and its work.

Put substantially more resources into keeping people safe: Oxfam is doubling the number of staff dedicated to preventing abuse and sexual misconduct and tripling the financial resources devoted to this work. This includes improvements to our system that allows people to report abuse that can be easily used by the communities we serve, and by staff and volunteers. Oxfam is creating a new global database of Oxfam staff officially authorized to provide references. This database is designed to end the use of forged, dishonest, or unreliable references by past or current Oxfam staff. Every six months Oxfam has committed to publicly disclose anonymized data of closed safeguarding investigations in that period across all affiliates. Additionally Oxfam America has added a full-time senior position dedicated to safeguarding.

Building and institutionalizing a values-driven culture within Oxfam. Our goal is to ensure that no one faces sexism, discrimination or abuse, that everyone feels safe speaking out, and everyone is clear on what behavior is acceptable or not. This requires ensuring that Oxfam as an organization embraces gender equality, prevents abuses of power and has zero tolerance of sexual harassment, abuse and exploitation. Oxfam America has launched and 18-month Gender Action Learning process to integrate and strengthen gender justice within the organization and in our work. Oxfam America is also currently recruiting for a position VP of People, Culture, and Global Human resources who will, along with senior leadership, be responsible for the development of a workplace culture and practice that reinforces Oxfam’s values of inclusiveness, empowerment, and accountability.

Working with our peers across the sector to tackle physical, sexual and emotional abuse: We are in a moment of opportunity to work collaboratively with our colleagues to prevent sexual assault and harassment in the broader aid sector. Oxfam America President and CEO, Abby Maxman is co-champion and co-lead on the CEO Taskforce at InterAction. Abby, along with 118 CEOs have signed a pledge that includes taking steps to ensure perpetrators cannot be re-employed by other members of the international aid community.

Read about Oxfam’s progress on commitments to stamp out sexual harassment and abuse.

Updates

More information

What is Oxfam America’s role in preventing sexual abuse?

Oxfam America is part of the Oxfam confederation, which is made up of more than 20 affiliate organizations. While Oxfam’s commitment to preventing sexual abuse is confederation-wide, Oxfam America President and CEO Abby Maxman is a leader in this work within Oxfam and the aid sector. She is the co-chair of Oxfam International’s Safeguarding Task Force, alongside Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International’s executive director. Abby is also co-leading the InterAction CEO Task Team on Sexual Harassment and Abuse, which convenes US-based aid organizations. Oxfam America has created three new roles: a Gender Advisor for our DC office, a Senior Safeguarding Specialist, and a Vice President of People, Culture, and Global Human Resources. Oxfam America has also launched an 18-month Gender Action Learning process to integrate and strengthen gender justice within the organization and in our work.

How do people safely report cases of misconduct?

Oxfam America’s safeguarding measures include a confidential whistleblowing mechanism, which is mediated by a third-party service provider called Navex Global (known internally as EthicsPoint). This whistleblowing system has been in place within Oxfam America since 2010. This allows staff, volunteers, beneficiaries, donors, and others to confidentially report any cases of misconduct, financial embezzlement, violation of policy, or any other practice inconsistent with Oxfam values. People can make complaints online, via phone, or by mail in English, Spanish, or French. The information on how to access this service is publicly available on our website and posted in all country offices Oxfam America oversees.

Every complaint is promptly investigated by Oxfam America’s Human Resources department and other departments as needed. Depending on the nature of the case, we may hire independent external investigators.

Ethics Violation Reporting

What policies does Oxfam have in place to protect people from sexual harassment and abuse?

Since 2010, Oxfam America has instituted policies for harassment complaints, harassment prevention, prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, and sexual harassment. These have since been updated annually. In 2011 we added a policy on child protection and prevention of bullying and harassment. These policies are to set the rules of behavior, and staff are obliged to abide by these policies. Oxfam America’s Human Resources department oversees its safeguarding measures. In 2018, Oxfam America reviewed all its policies to assure that they reflect recent changes in context and assure the safety, due process, and protection of our staff, our partners, our beneficiaries, and those who we exist to serve.

Oxfam International polices and codes of conduct.

Oxfam.org Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+