As the scandal engulfing Oxfam intensified over the weekend, many in the sector and beyond have given their views on the news that staff at the international aid organisation paid for sex in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake there in 2010.
As expected, there has been much disgust and anger about the behaviour of individuals who used sex workers as well as the conduct of Oxfam itself in addressing the issue, but behind that criticism have been hopes that the affair will lead to improvements in the sector.
Good to see #Oxfam now committing to this: https://t.co/jaXqK5vrLf Aid workers aren’t heroes or saints & aid sector isn’t immune from sexual exploitation. #Oxfam should now lead the way in making sure it & others live up to their own values. 2/5— Maya Mailer (@MayaMailer) February 11, 2018
More than ever we need to support organisations like @oxfamgb @Oxfam for their incredible work to help address poverty. Doing heroic job in very difficult places. Should not be undermined by a few individuals nor sensational press. Full support needed @Unilever @Mark_Goldring1— Paul Polman (@PaulPolman) February 10, 2018
The most depressing part of this sorry episode is not only the conduct of the people involved but the institutional cover up including lies to donor nations. Ultimately you are underwritten by taxpayers. If you lose trust it's really hard to recover. Ask any govt.— David Wright (@Craghopper283) February 11, 2018
If we want charities to be transparent - & we do - we're unfortunately going to hear more about things going wrong. Harassment and abuse clearly exist across all sectors and countries, & no-one can be complacent.— Vicky Browning (@browning_vicky) February 11, 2018
Hey twitter it IS possible to be horrified at what has happened at Haiti in Oxfam, passionate about value and purpose of international development and worried about the impact of the gagging laws on the vital capacity of charities to speak truth to power. All at the same time.— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) February 12, 2018
The reputation of Oxfam has clearly been hugely damaged, but many commentators have also stressed that the important work the charity does in difficult and challenging environments should not be dismissed.
Oxfam 1: whatever the sins of a small minority of employees, the government should not be allowed to destroy Oxfam, which has done overwhelming good in this world. I have been a regular donor for more than 20 years and will remain so.— Chris Mullin (@chrismullinexmp) February 11, 2018
I’d like to demonstrate my personal support for @oxfamgb. Where wrong has been done I hope it is corrected swiftly and for the long term ,but as a regular donor I believe in their work and will continue to do so. #oxfam— Amanda Bringans (@AmandaBringans) February 12, 2018
Charities can have the best safeguarding policies, but if someone is bent on breaking them, they will. This is about individuals' terrible behaviour, not terrible charities. Let's keep some perspective. Charities do right thing telling regulator & mustn't stop doing so #oxfam— Sarah Miller (@sjmillery) February 11, 2018
Withdrawing government funding from Oxfam because of the Haiti scandal would be like withdrawing NHS funding from Stoke Mandeville hospital because of Jimmy Savile. #r4today— Adrian Faiers (@AdrianFaiers) February 12, 2018
I’m an @oxfamgb supporter (& ex-staff). I’m disgusted by what happened in Haiti. I want to know it’ll never happen again. But as a whole org Oxfam is not rotten. Losing its govt funding will hurt poor people all over the world.— Antonia Bance (@antoniabance) February 12, 2018
Just increased monthly SO to @oxfamgb What happened in Haiti is inexcusable - but so is using it as a means to argue we reduce support to the poorest people in the world.— Paul Streets (@PaulStreets_) February 11, 2018
If my twitter feed is anything to go by, people everywhere support @oxfamgb and believe it is a great institution and that its staff share their values. We’re all angry at what has happened because we believe in you. We want to help you get it right. https://t.co/rSydqP21Re— Karl Wilding (@karlwilding) February 12, 2018
Meanwhile, others raised concerns and suspicions about the motives behind the headlines coming soon after Oxfam had criticised current capitalist systems and in turn come under attack for that, notably from former charities minister Rob Wilson, as well as prominent Conservative back-bencher Jacob Rees-Mogg handing in a petition to Downing Street last Thursday demanding overseas aid be slashed.
Absolutely. Congratulations to Oxfam on it's groundbreaking inequality work, its effectiveness proved by the apparent Times (and BBC) campaigns. Stay firm, this is what the Establishment does. https://t.co/8sydEXu5TK— Mark Curtis (@markcurtis30) February 11, 2018
I don't defend Oxfam, but of all the people to lecture the chFearity sector on sexual harassment and worse, parliamentarians are definitely not the ideal choice.— Tim Walker (@ThatTimWalker) February 12, 2018