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Charities are finally having a #TimesUp moment

Charities are finally having a #TimesUp moment
[Photo: Mario Azzi/Unsplash]

The ripple effect of Harvey Weinstein’s unmasking as a serial sexual harasser and predator has hit nearly every industry, as numerous groups work to expel sexual harassers whose behavior has been an open secret for too long. Now it appears that charity groups are having their own #TimesUp moment.

Here’s are some of the organizations facing a new reckoning:

  • Oxfam is currently cleaning house after allegations that employees hired prostitutes and funded “full-on Caligula orgies” with the survivors of the Haiti earthquake. Oxfam has denied covering up its employees’ misdeeds, both in Haiti, and in the African Republic of Chad, where similar accusations have been made.
  • UNICEF’s deputy executive director Justin Forsyth stepped down from his post after admitting he made “some personal mistakes” during his time at Save the ChildrenForsyth claims he is leaving UNICEF “because of the danger of damaging both Unicef and Save the Children” and not because of his alleged inappropriate conduct with three women that led him to be investigated in both 2011 and again in 2015.
  • Save the Children should perhaps improve its employee vetting process, as it hired an alleged sexual harasser who was let go from the American Red Cross with some “very positive references.” Beyond this one individual, Save the Children investigated 53 sexual misconduct allegations in 2016, and, according to Reutersfired 16 employees over sexual misconduct over the past year.
  • British charity The Presidents Club folded after an exposé detailed hostesses being groped and harassed at a recent all-male fundraising event.
  • Wayne Pacelle, the CEO of the Humane Society of the U.S.,  resigned amid sexual harassment complaints and a backlash by major donors.
  • The deputy head of the United Nations’ agency for HIV/AIDS stepped down from his post following sexual harassment allegations. The U.N., however, says that his departure was not due to these harassment claims, according to Reuters. Sadly, there have been plenty of other well-substantiated cases within the organization. In its quarterly update, the U.N. reported that there were 40 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse involving 54 victims–including 16 girls under the age of 18–made against U.N. peacekeeping missions, agencies, funds and programs. That was in the last three months of 2017 alone.

The problem is incredibly widespread. The U.K.’s charity regulator revealed that it receives over 1,000 incident reports of abuse every year. Save the Children UK has even warned that “predatory men” were seeking to use aid work as an opportunity for abuse.

While sexual harassers and abusers in any industry should be ousted, when it comes to the charity sector–which relies on trust and transparency–that change can’t come soon enough.

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