The sexual abuses´ cases within the Catholic Church were regrettable, shameful, absolutely repugnant. No doubt about. They provoked and keep provoking very harsh reactions in the society. The angry media treated those also harshly, which was deserved, and the left-wing groups were fiercely stirring up the entire Roman Catholic Church for these despicable acts. Films have been made about these events, and the whole Church and even all the Roman Catholics have been blamed. These are behaviours which are always reprehensible, but even more so when they occur within an organization based on ethical values and principles.
In line with the events which took place within the Roman Catholic Church, it was totally unacceptable for the NGO Oxfam´ members to hire prostitutes and organize orgies in 2011, while they were on a humanitarian mission in Haiti after the terrible earthquake which devastated the island. Several senior officials of the NGO Intermon Oxfam organized sex parties with prostitutes or ‘orgies like those of Caligula,’ as it has been revealed by several witnesses. These doings took place while distributing humanitarian aid in Haiti, following the earthquake of 2010, which killed 220,000 people and injured more than 300,000.
As a result of these despicable events, several leaders of the Haitian mission resigned, among them was the Belgian Roland van Hauwermeiren, who was in charge of the mission and director of Intermon Oxfam in Haiti during that period and who, in the internal investigation, admitted bringing prostitutes to his house there. Furthermore, Oxfam CEO at that time, Dame Barbara Stocking, offered to the Belgian a “gradual and dignified” exit, because just dismissing him would have, she said, “potentially serious implications” for the reputation of the organization. The fact is especially serious taking into account that van Hauwermeiren already had a similar behaviour in Chad in 2006. The repetition indicates that the internal controls over the ethical conduct of the staff, were weak or just non-existent.
Following these events, the deputy director of Oxfam UK Penny Lawrence, has also resigned. Lawrence, declared that she was “ashamed” of these events, which occurred when she was the Programs Director. Lawrence admitted that the right measures were not taken and for that, she has apologized “I am deeply sorry for the damage and anguish generated for those who support Oxfam, the entire cooperation sector and most of the vulnerable people they have trusted.”
The revelation of abuses by different NGOs has not yet stopped. Moreover, The Times pointed out last Sunday that more than 120 workers were accused of sexual abuse during last year. Most of these cases occurred in Oxfam itself (87), and also in Save the Children (31) or the Christian Aid organization (2). In its pages could also be read the warning of a former worker of the Red Cross and the United Nations, Andrew MacLeod, about a lack of response against the ‘institutionalized paedophilia’ among aid workers in the international missions. An affirmation also shared by the former British minister of International Cooperation Priti Patel, who assured that this Oxfam scandal is just the tip of the iceberg of the serious problem of sexual abuses occurring within this organizations.
The statement of a former Oxfam head has added fuel to the fire of this scandal. Helen Evans, who led the organization’s security section between 2012 and 2015, accused the NGO’s officials of ignoring allegations of sexual abuse coming from both outside and within the UK. Evans said that even in the Oxfam stores in Britain, several underage volunteers reported sexual abuse by colleagues and managers. The top leadership looked the other way, without giving any response to the accusations. In an interview on Channel 4, Evans also revealed that a volunteer coerced a woman to have sex with him, in exchange for aid.
There is a said ´misfortune never come alone´. In the case of Oxfam, the said seems to be very accurate, because 24 hours after the resignation of the deputy director of the NGO, Penny Lawrence, the Oxfam’s president, the Guatemalan Juan Alberto Fuentes Knight was arrested. Fuentes Knight used to be the Minister of Finance in his country, Guatemala.
Oxfam has evidenced an absolute lack of moral leadership. Now, after all these despicable events, Oxfam has expressed the will to recover the lost trust and has announced that will apply rigorous and effective internal control measures to prevent such serious events from happening again. This will require a great effort and tons of transparency. There is no other way to recover the credibility of an organization which, like the rest of NGOs, are and will continue to be very necessary. Oxfam has been one of the most belligerent NGOs when it comes to criticizing those liberal economic policies which are bringing economic development all over the world. They should take more concern and attention of their own house, rather than speak out loud and criticize others´ houses.
Now, I would like (and expect) to see the same harsh criticism of those progressive media, of the cinema and spectacle industry, against the Oxfam and other NGOs sexual abusing, about their proved lack of morals and ethics, about these deeds occurred in those places where they are most needed and where ever such behaviour and abuse was never expected. Let’s wait and see.