WASHINGTON – One of the biggest charities in the world is under fire for relief efforts in Haiti in which young local prostitutes were hired for “Caligula-style” sex parties by its workers – then covered up reports of the debauchery, possibly even involving minors.
The U.K.-based Oxfam, with offices in Washington and Boston, maintains a super-“progressive” mission statement that boasts about its work to improve the lives of woman and girls around the world who it maintains suffer disproportionately from poverty, permitted three workers to resign and fired four others after investigating the incidents, but also gave, at least some, positive references.
Its own internal report did not mention the potential of sex crimes having been perpetrated against minors in Haiti in 2011, except to say allegations were unproven. It did say there are no allegations of abuse of beneficiaries of its relief efforts.
Oxfam’s Chief Executive Mark Goldring told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “With hindsight, I would much prefer that we had talked about sexual misconduct. But I don’t think it was in anyone’s best interest to be describing the details of the behavior in a way that was actually going to draw extreme attention to it when what we wanted to do was get on and deliver an aid program.”
The U.K.’s Department for International Development, which gave Oxfam nearly 32 million pounds last year, is now reviewing its funding.
Oxfam’s work in Haiti in 2011 was in response to the devastating earthquake that hit the impoverished Caribbean nation in 2010.
The allegations of misconduct by Oxfam staff in Haiti date from 2011 but have exploded recently in reports charity’s director for Haiti, Roland Van Hauwermeiren, was alleged to have used prostitutes at a villa rented for him by Oxfam in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. Van Hauwermeiren was among others who were permitted to resign quietly.
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Oxfam describes itself, ironically, as a global organization working to end the injustice of poverty – with special attention to how it affects the lives of women and girls.
“The reports of what is unacceptable behavior by senior aid workers in Haiti are truly shocking,” a spokeswoman for Theresa May said. “We want to see Oxfam provide all the evidence they hold of the events to the Charity Commission for a full and urgent investigation of these very serious allegations.”
Oxfam America says in its official statements: “According to some estimates, women represent 70 percent of the world’s poor. Oxfam helps women and girls overcome gender discrimination, realize their potential, and assume leadership roles in their communities.”
It also takes the position that “climate change” is a major contributing factor in worsening world poverty. The organization also took an active role in the 2017 women’s march in Washington.
“You can trust us,” boasts the organization in its promotional materials. “Oxfam America is rated highly by leading independent charity evaluators, including Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest charity evaluator. Oxfam has the Better Business Bureau’s highest rating and seal of approval for charitable organizations by meeting all 20 of its Standards for Charity Accountability. Oxfam has also achieved the highest Platinum level profile with Guidestar, a philanthropic research organization that rewards transparency. These rankings place Oxfam among an elite group of charitable organizations nationally.”
The OxfamAmerica website ironically includes this post about its special attention to the plight of women and girls: “The #metoo movement could bring a wave of gender equality around the world, and at least seven ambassadors to the US give reasons to be hopeful for the future.”