We reported last week that some Oxfam staff members working in Haiti in 2011 were accused of sexual misconduct. We have now heard of allegations of staff members in Chad using sex workers in 2006. The misconduct of some Oxfam staff members represents an appalling mark against our values and the high standards we expect of all employees.
Penny Lawrence, deputy chief executive of Oxfam Great Britain, resigned today. “Over the last few days, we have become aware that concerns were raised about the behavior of staff in Chad as well as Haiti that we failed to adequately act upon,” said Lawrence. “It is now clear that these allegations—involving the use of prostitutes and which related to behavior of both the country director and members of his team in Chad—were raised before he moved to Haiti. As programme director at the time, I am ashamed that this happened on my watch, and I take full responsibility.”
Oxfam’s investigation into events in Haiti led us to review and strengthen our “safeguarding” policies and practices. We established a dedicated safeguarding team, a confidential whistleblowing hot line that is available to our staff and partners and a safeguarding contact point within countries as part of a package of measures to ensure that we do all we can to protect our staff, prevent sexual abuse and misconduct happening in the first place, and improve how we handle any allegations.
Oxfam's priority is to stand fully by the survivors of such reprehensible behavior—and to ensure that such behavior is absolutely rooted out of our organization. We stand firmly against the exploitation and abuse of women and girls.
In the coming days, we expect there will be additional questions. We will do our utmost to be transparent, sharing information that is provided to us. We hope we can rebuild our trust with our supporters who know, as we do, that the actions of a few do not represent all that Oxfam stands for.
Oxfam America is an affiliate within the Oxfam confederation, a global organization that works in more than 90 countries to save lives, help people overcome poverty, and fight for social justice.
Oxfam treats all allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation very seriously and investigates each one thoroughly. We have a confidential 'whistle-blowing' helpline—which can be found here in the US—and safeguarding focal or contact points within countries.
We are committed to continually learning and improving in order to protect our staff, volunteers and beneficiaries from sexual harassment and abuse and create a safe place to work for all.