Sexual abuse

In February 2018, the world was shocked by the news that a sex-scandal had occurred at Oxfam UK. As a response, humanitarian organizations have written protocols, measures and guidelines to prevent recurrence. But what do we really know about Protection against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA)? What are the causes? And do the existing measures really address the problem?
This dossier aims to bring together existing knowledge about PSEA within the aid sector. It focuses on four topics: defining the problem, data and numbers, measures to prevent and adequately response and lessons learned. Within the dossier, you can find official documents, reports, debates, scientific articles, and more.

If you have any documents that can be added to this dossier, please let us know by sending an e-mail to [kuno]@kuno-platform.nl

  • Analysis

    Article

    Addressing Sexual Violence in Humanitarian Emergencies

    This paper reviews the current situation with regard to sexual violence in humanitarian emergencies. It focuses on sexual violence in general, and identifies multiple aspects wherein the humanitarian community can aid to prevent and respond to this phenomenon.
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    Authors/organization: M. Marsh, S. Purdin and S. Navani
    Date: 2006
    Blog

    EXCLUSIVE: The ethical failure – Why I resigned from the UN

    The story from a whistleblower on sexual exploitation and abuse who was forced to resign after 21 years of UN service. He talks about how the UN has dealt with the information that had come to light and what the impact has been on his career.
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    Authors/organization: Anders Kompass
    Date: 2016
    Report

    Gender and Security Guidelines for Mainstreaming Gender in Security Risk Management

    This report takes a step back and looks at how gender works within difficult, insecure environments with high risk-factors. It relates this to personal values and beliefs and organizational environments. It provides a clear background into the possible relationships and methods to deal with this.
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    Authors/organization: Christine Persaud
    Date: 2012
    Report

    No One to Turn To: The under-reporting of child sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers and peacekeepers

    Children living in countries affected by conflict and natural disaster are being sexually exploited and abused by the very people hired to help them – aid workers and peacekeepers. However, the silence around this is appaling. This report tries to address this problem by looking at why it persists and what solutions might be fitting.
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    Authors/organization: Corinna Csáky/Save the Children UK
    Date: 2008
    Report

    Report of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Task Force on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Humanitarian Crises

    This report distinguishes between two possibilities: the conditions on the ground that make women vulnerable, and the need for humanitarian organisations to look at themselves. It discusses a wide variety of topics that need to be considered in preventing sexual abuse by humanitarian actors/professionals. The report ends with a Plan of Action and time-schedule for implementation.
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    Authors/organization: IASC
    Date: 2002
    Report

    Researching livelihoods and services affected by conflict: women engaging in transactional sex and working in prostitution: Practices and underlying factors of the sex trade in South Kivu, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    This report is a case study on transactional sex and working in prostitution in humanitarian settings. It is foremost a descriptive study that helps the reader understand prostitution and transactional sex from a local point of view: what does it entail (for example their level of exploitativeness or survival/livelihood strategy), what are the motivations behind it, how often does it occur, who are the major clients.
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    Authors/organization: Isumbisho Mwapu, Dorothea Hilhorst, Murhega Mashanda, Muhigwa Bahananga and Ruhamya Mugenzi
    Date: 2016
    Toolkit

    Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: Risk Management Toolkit

    This Toolkit provides a systematic approach to managing risks relating to sexual exploitation and abuse of the population by humanitarian employees. It takes a victim-centred approach. The different phases identified by the Toolkit are (1) understanding the context and identifying risks, (2) assessing risks, (3) treating risks, (4) monitoring risks and (5) communicating and coordinating on risks.
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    Authors/organization: UN conduct
    Date: 2018
    Report

    Sexual Harassment, Abuse and Exploitation in the Aid Sector: Cowboys and Kings

    This paper uses the stories of 29 aid workers from around the world to piece together the scale of the abuse within the sector. This research finds that gender-based violence, perpetrated by humanitarian actors, is condoned, covered-up, and replicated throughout the entire aid sector. It will attempt to make sense of the abuse of power and privilege which has become a daily reality for women working in the sector, and for the women and girls it serves.
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    Authors/organization: Danielle Spencer
    Date: 2018
    Book

    Spaces of aid: how cars, compounds and hotels shape humanitarianism

    This book provides the first book-length description and analysis of what has colloguially been referred to as Aid Land. By looking at three of its main sites - the grand hotel, the SUV and the compound - the book uncovers the history of what has become an endemic, expected yet unexamined part of the aid landscape. It develops a model that helps to understand the impact of spatial considerations and material culture on aid work and maps out the unintended outcomes.
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    Authors/organization: Lisa Smirl
    Date: 2015
    Report and briefing paper

    Stop the Sexual Assualt Against Women

    This report provides extensive insight into sexual harassment and assault perpetrated by aid workers. First, they discuss that women are mostly victims, and that the majortity of perpetrators are men working in the aid industry. They also review security training materials and policies and procedures of organisations, to assess how agencies prevent and respond.
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    Authors/organization: Dyan Mazura & Phoebe Donnelly
    Date: 2017
    Book

    Voluntary regulation of NGOs and nonprofits: An accountability club framework

    This book focuses on a key accountability instrument employed by non-profit organizations and professionals: voluntary programs or codes. They seek to create institutional incentives for participating actors to adopt specific codes of conduct and practices beyond what is legally required of them.
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    Authors/organization: Gugerty, M. K., & Prakash, A.
    Date: 2010
  • Critics and next steps

    Blog-analysis

    #MeToo sex scandals spur interest in standards for the aid sector

    The slew of #MeToo sexual abuse scandals that has jolted the humanitarian sector has prompted calls for proper oversight and vetting of aid agencies and workers, and for the introduction of mandatory professional standards.
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    Authors/organization: Ben Parker
    Date: 2018
    Article

    A Blueprint for Professionalizing Humanitarian Assistance

    The world of humanitarian assistance is growing and changing enoumously. In order to be able to deal with these growths, the authors describe seven recommendations that aim to professionalize the individuals that are working in humanitarian organizations to promote the quality and integrity of the workforce in terms of competence and skills: create an international professional association; provide certified trainings; open routes towards certification; focus on core competencies; provide accredited trainers; support the IHSA; and to aim for recognition from employers and states.
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    Authors/organization: Walker, P., Hein, K., Russ, C., Bertleff, G., & Caspersz, D.
    Date: 2010
    Blog

    A Humanitarian Ombudsman revisited?

    This blog calls for a revisit of a call that was heard 20 years ago: to have an organization or mechanism to hold humanitarians to account. The blog discusses the opportunities, but also provides a critical stance towards an ombudsman. What would his task be? And who would be in charge in conflict-induced settings? What is the alternative? All these questions (and more) are discussed.
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    Authors/organization: Ian Christopolos & John Mitchell
    Date: 2018
    Article

    Being Good at doing good? Quality and Accountability of Humanitarian NGOs

    Enhancing the quality and accountability is an issue that is being worked with in humanitarian organizations as we speak. However, this is done in niches, withoput a system-wide agreement that all organizations adhere to. This article discusses why it is important to create one overarching agreement and how this could be achieved. However, pitfals are the lack of a single definition (with multiple approaches present and overlapping), and the question of how and by whom quality standers could/should be imposed and controlled, making it unlikely to create one uniform sectoral approach to quality control.
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    Authors/organization: Dorothea Hilhorst
    Date: 2002
    Informal notes

    Bijeenkomst voor ontwikkelingsorganisaties en Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken over seksueel overschrijdend gedrag (MinBuZa, 6 maart)

    " DUTCH ONLY: Short notes that describe the discussion on the Netherlands has reponded to the Oxfam scandal in Haiti. They discuss how to reclaim funds, how to improve integrity, how humanitarian aid is delivered in the world, the presence of an ombudsman and the fact that abuse was reported but nothing was done with it.
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    Authors/organization: Renate de Waard
    Date: 2018
    Informal notes

    Bijeenkomst voor Ontwikkelingsorganisaties en Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken over sexueel overschrijden gedrag (6 March, 2018)

    DUTCH ONLY: Some short notes on a meeting for development organizations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about sexually transgressive behaviour. It clearly describes what the core points are to focus on in the future. It does not elaborate on how these points will be addressed.
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    Authors/organization: Peter Heintze
    Date: 2018
    Report

    Challenges and options in improving recruitment processes in the context of Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) by our own staff

    This report outlines the challenges and options in improving recruitment processes in the context of PSEA within the UN system and NGO system (separately). The report outlines good practices and recommendations to be presented at the IASC Principals’ meeting in December 2013.
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    Authors/organization: CHS Alliance
    Date: 2013
    Official notes

    Een debat over misstanden bij hulporganisaties en de aanscherping van procedures en subsidiekaders

    DUTCH ONLY: Debate in the Dutch House of Representatives about SEA in the aid sector. It focuses on the tightening of procedures and subsidy frameworks.
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    Authors/organization: House of Representatives
    Date: 2018
    Paper

    Governing sexual behaviour through humanitarian codes of conduct

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    Authors/organization: Stephanie Matti
    Date: 2015
    Report

    International Ombuds for Humanitarian and Development Aid Scoping Study

    The aim of this study is to assess whether there is a need for a humanitarian ombuds and, if so, how it might function and fit with existing governance mechanisms in the sector. It focuses on experienced aid practitioners rather than institutional responses.
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    Authors/organization: Dorothea Hilhorst Asmita Naik Andrew Cunningham
    Date: 2018
    Verslag

    Misstanden in de Noodhulp: een Rondetafelgesprek

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    Authors/organization: Unknown
    Date: 2018
    Report

    Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Peacekeeping Operations: Improving victims' access to reparation, support and assistance.

    This is a report about the widespread and enduring problem of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and other personnel associated with peace operations. The focus of the report is directed at answering one question: ‘what happens to the victims?', by analyzing the various steps to address victims’ rights and needs that have been taken or are being contemplated by various organizations.
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    Authors/organization: The REDRESS Trust
    Date: 2017
    Report

    Sexual Harassment, abuse and exploitation in the aid sector - Progress Report

    In June 2018, a group of female aid workers decided to test the progress of the implementation of reforms in the aid sector. The results show that little has been achieved in the first half of 2018 to improve the ways in which the sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse of women and girls by aid workers is handled and what has been done has been at a very surface level.
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    Authors/organization: Chaning Aid
    Date: 2018
    Guidelines

    Sexual Violence by Peacekeepers against Children and Other Civilians: A Practical Guide for Advocacy

    This article is written as a reponse to UN guidelines and steps that have been taken in response to SEA allegations. CRIN finds that the steps so far have fallen short of what is needed to ensure the safety of civilians, particularly children, from UN peacekeepers. This guide provides 10 recommendations for next steps to safeguard children and other civilians in the long-term. It suggests how to achieve these recommendations and with whom to partner.
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    Authors/organization: Child Rights International Network
    Date: 2016
    Debate

    The Humanitarian #MeToo moment

    "Notes and video from the IRIN Debate on 22 March, 2018. The aim of the debate is to move beyond media headlines adn policy-making to talk about a way forward. Panelists: • Avril Benoit, Director of Communications and Fundraising, Médecins Sans Frontières • Hannah Clare, Global PSEA Adviser, Norwegian Refugee Council • Jeremy Konyndyk, Former Director of the United States Agency for International Development, Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance • Amira Malik Miller, Swedish civil servant and former aid worker • Fionna Smyth, Head of Humanitarian Policy and Campaigns, Oxfam GB Moderator: Heba Aly, Director, IRIN News"
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    Authors/organization: IRIN
    Date: 2018
    Blog

    The humanitarian world is not populated by saints.

    A blog by two aid workers who tell their experiences of working in the aid sector related to sexual abuse and assault. They call for a change from within.
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    Authors/organization: Anonymous aid workers
    Date: 2017
  • Guidelines and toolkits

    E-learning

    Child Safeguarding

    This short animation highlights some of the signs of potential Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) – a common category of child abuse in emergencies – and how you can respond to effectively safeguard children.
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    Authors/organization: Kaya
    Date: 2018
    Guidelines

    Core Humanitarian Standard

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    Authors/organization: CHS Alliance, Group URD and the Sphere Project
    Date: 2014
    Report

    Gender and Security Guidelines for Mainstreaming Gender in Security Risk Management

    This report takes a step back and looks at how gender works within difficult, insecure environments with high risk-factors. It relates this to personal values and beliefs and organizational environments. It provides a clear background into the possible relationships and methods to deal with this.
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    Authors/organization: Christine Persaud
    Date: 2012
    Actieplan

    Gezamenlijk Actieplan Integriteit

    DUTCH ONLY: This collective action plan was drafted by a coalition of Dutch alliances and international aid organizations after a call for this by Minister Kaag in March 2018. The goal of the plan is that the number of violations of integrity will decrease and the willingness to report will increase.
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    Authors/organization: Partos, het Nederlandse Rode Kruis, Save the Children, Cordaid, Oxfam Novib, CARE Nederland, ICCO, Dutch Relief Alliance (DRA), Samenwerkende Hulporganisaties (SHO/Giro 555), Goede Doelen Nederland en toezichthouder CBF 
    E-learning

    Managing sexual exploitation and abuse investigations

    "Learn to create a culture of safety in your organisation and the community you're working in.  This online course will teach you the benefits of codes of conduct, adequate staff training and supervision, and confidential complaints mechanisms. You will learn the mechanisms for, and responsibilities of managing an investigation. On completion of this course you will: - access the key tools and resource materials to assist in managing investigations - identify the key responsibilities of managing investigations"
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    Authors/organization: Kaya
    Date: 2018
    Guidelines

    Partos - Gedragscode

    DUTCH ONLY: Behavioural code by Partos that is binding for all its members.
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    Authors/organization: Partos
    Date: 2012
    Guidelines

    Preventing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment and Abuse of Aid Workers

    This paper summarizes actions undertaken by IASC organizations to prevent, investigate, and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) and sexual harassment and abuse (SHA). It aims to promote good practice and learning within the IASC and identify opportunities for collaboration.
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    Authors/organization: InterAgency Standing Comittee
    Date: 2018
    E-learning

    Prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse. How to identify and prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.

    "On completion of this course you will: - Understand the need to be alert to possible sexual exploitation and abuse taking place - Be able to define sexual exploitation and abuse - Be familiar with the international framework for addressng sexual exploitation and abuse - understand the mechanisms that organisation have in place for preventing sexual exploitation and abuse - know what you can do to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse" "On completion of this course you will: - Understand the need to be alert to possible sexual exploitation and abuse taking place - Be able to define sexual exploitation and abuse - Be familiar with the international framework for addressng sexual exploitation and abuse - understand the mechanisms that organisation have in place for preventing sexual exploitation and abuse - know what you can do to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse
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    Authors/organization: Kaya
    Date: 2018
    Guidelines

    Protection against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) Global Standard Operating Procedures Inter-agency cooperation in community-based complaint mechanisms

    This elaborative article focuses specifically on inter-agency cooperation at institutional and collective levels. They describe Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to provide system-wide clarity on a general model of procedures, so that agencies can cooperate in establishing and maintaining country level Community-Based Complaint Mechanisms.
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    Authors/organization: InterAgency Standing Comittee
    Date: 2016
    Report

    PSEA Implementation Quick Reference Handbook

    The purpose of this handbook is to demonstrate how we can implement practical measures to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse. The Handbook takes the key areas from the described standards and provides examples of how this can look in practice. It also provides a real-life case study for each of the areas covered, so you can learn from the work of other NGOs.
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    Authors/organization: CHS Alliance
    Date: 2017
    Report

    Report of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Task Force on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Humanitarian Crises

    This report distinguishes between two possibilities: the conditions on the ground that make women vulnerable, and the need for humanitarian organisations to look at themselves. It discusses a wide variety of topics that need to be considered in preventing sexual abuse by humanitarian actors/professionals. The report ends with a Plan of Action and time-schedule for implementation.
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    Authors/organization: IASC
    Date: 2002

    Serving with Pride: key initiatives to prevent and address misconduct

    The article puts in place a number of complementary measures to support prevention of misconduct, ensure accountability, and strengthen assistance and support to victims of sexual exploitation and abuse. In these pages, it highlights some of the key initiatives that are being implemented in peacekeeping and special political missions across the world.
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    Authors/organization: UN Peace operations
    Date: 2018
    Report

    Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse: a new approach

    The present report presents the Secretary-General’s strategy to improve the Organization’s system-wide approach to preventing and responding to sexual exploitation and abuse. The strategy focuses on four main areas of action: putting victims first; ending impunity; engaging civil society and external partners; and improving strategic communications for education and transparency.
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    Authors/organization: UN General Assembly, Secretary General
    Date: 2017
    Report

    Taking Action on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Peacekeepers

    This report offers practical, tangible tools to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse of the recipient of humanitarian aid. It calls to protect and care for victims, and to empower Member States to hold the peacekeepers who perpetrate sexual crimes accountable.
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    Authors/organization: Marie Deschamps, Hassan B. Jallow and Yasmin Sooka
    Date: 2015
    Guidelines

    This report provides information on measures to strengthen the system-wide response to sexual exploitation and abuse, including progress in the implementation of the zero-tolerance policy and the Secretary-General’s “new approach” strategy.

    This report provides information on measures to strengthen the system-wide response to sexual exploitation and abuse, including progress in the implementation of the zero-tolerance policy and the Secretary-General’s “new approach” strategy.
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    Authors/organization: UN Secretary General
    Date: 2018
    Guidelines

    UN Fact Sheet on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

    This fact sheet provides the reader with a short overview of the measures in place for PSEA within the UN in 2015. It is structured in bullet-points, and therefore provides the reader with a quick overview without going into depth.
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    Authors/organization: United Nations
    Date: 2015
    Guidelines

    UNHCR Addressing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment Strategy, Structure and Key Actions

    This report discusses how to strenghten the prevention of SEA and SH by nurturing an organizational culture, leadership and workplace practices that ensure that each colleague understands his or her roles and responsibilities to prevent and respond to SEA and SH. These are translated into multiple organizational objectives.
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    Authors/organization: UNHCR
    Date: 2018
  • Numbers

    Website

    Information on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

    Information of Sexual Abuse and Exploitation by staff of the UN: provides extensive information on the number and kind of victims, the background of the perpetrators and follow-up actions taken
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    Authors/organization: UN
    Date: 2018
    Survey findings

    Survey findings

    This is an explorative document that aims to get an idea of how prevalent certain issues regarding gender harassment and sexual violence are. The graphs provide a clear overview of the issues at hand concerning sexual violence, harrassment, reporting and professional and personal well-being within humanitarian organizations.
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    Authors/organization: Humanitarian Womens Network
    Date: 2016

Further readings