Aid charities must “wake up to the fact that some of their staff are sexual predators” or face losing funding, MPs have said.
In a parliamentary debate to discuss the report into sexual abuse and exploitation in the aid sector published by the House of Commons International Development Committee last week, Sarah Champion, the chair of the committee, said she was “fed up with hearing that lessons have been learned”, while being told new stories of abuse.
“We will only see true change when there is a root-and-branch transformation of the culture of aid organisations.”
Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham, said “abuse should not be treated like some repulsive game of whack-a-mole”, and aid organisations could prevent issues arising by embedding safeguarding in every project.
She said she wanted to tell aid organisations: “I know that the vast majority of aid workers are good people giving their all to make a difference, but you have to wake up to the fact that some of your staff are sexual predators.”
The committee’s report concluded that sexual exploitation and abuse continued to be “a scourge” on the international development sector, which had “effectively become the last safe haven for perpetrators”.
Asked by Pauline Latham, the Conservative MP for Mid Derbyshire and a member of the International Development Committee, whether the government should remove funding from organisations that fall short in this area and publicise what it is doing, Champion agreed.
“The government needs to show zero tolerance,” she said. “The most effective way to do that is by taking away the cash. There can be no safe space for sexual abuse within the aid sector and no taxpayers’ money spent on supporting it.”
The IDC said last week that it planned to begin a new inquiry into the philosophy of aid, the details of which are not yet available.