Oxfam, one of the world’s largest charities, was on Tuesday found to have concealed allegations of child sex abuse to protect its reputation.
In a painstaking 150-page report, the Charity Commission detailed how a “culture of poor behaviour” and failed to address early warning signs of the sex scandal that rocked the charity sector last year. allowing predatory staff to target young victims in Haiti and other disaster zones.
Its findings included:
- Oxfam failed to adequately investigate allegations that children as young as 12 or 13 were victims of sexual misconduct by an unnamed charity “boss”
- It was not as full and frank as it should have been about Haiti, and did not report the allegations of child abuse by staff
- It treated some senior staff more leniently than junior staff over Haiti
- The impact on victims and the risk they faced appeared to take second place and was not taken seriously enough
Even in the UK, more than a dozen under age volunteers reported sexual abuse in high street charity shops, while convicted sex offenders were found working behind the counter.
The report is part of an 18-month investigation into Oxfam’s handling of the scandal, finding that the charity “missed opportunities” to address “cultural and behavioral issues” of staff in Haiti at that time.It follows explosive allegations last year that some staff, including the Haiti country director, hired prostitutes at Oxfam properties while working in the country after the devastating earthquake.
Claims first emerged in The Times last year that Oxfam employees, including former country director Roland van Hauwermeiren, used young prostitutes while based in Haiti after the earthquake.
The watchdog said it had found evidence to indicate that Oxfam “encouraged and facilitated” Van Hauwermeiren’s resignation, warning that this suggested “more senior staff would be treated more leniently”.