“Orgies While People Are Dying”: How Charity Oxfam Allowed Sex Abuse in Ailing Countries Like Haiti

“Orgies While People Are Dying”: How Charity Oxfam Allowed Sex Abuse in Ailing Countries Like Haiti

Posted by


AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, the War and Peace report, I’m Amy Goodman. AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show with
the sexual abuse scandal engulfing the British charity Oxfam. Oxfam has been hit with dozens more misconduct
allegations involving a slew of countries in the days since The Times of London revealed
Oxfam tried to cover up sex crimes by senior aid workers in Haiti after the devastating
2010 earthquake. On Tuesday, Oxfam’s leadership was questioned
by British lawmakers in the Parliament, and Oxfam apologized for its failure to report
sexual misconduct to Haitian authorities. Prostitution is illegal in Haiti, but Oxfam
refused to report the activity of its aid workers to Haitian police. This is the British Parliament’s International
Development Committee questioning Oxfam’s chief executive, Mark Goldring. PAULINE LATHAM: Prostitution is illegal in
Haiti. Shouldn’t Oxfam have reported the matter
anyway? MARK GOLDRING: Oxfam should have reported
the matter to the Haitian authorities. It wasn’t for Oxfam to decide whether a
crime had been committed or not, but something that was serious and undermined the rule of
law and public confidence in Haiti, should have been reported to the relevant Haitian
authorities. I make—I can only apologize that Oxfam did
not do that. AMY GOODMAN: On Monday, Oxfam released its
own internal report into the sex scandal. It concluded senior aid workers at Oxfam,
including the country director in Haiti, hired prostitutes at Oxfam properties in Haiti and
then tried to cover it up. Oxfam’s internal report includes claims
three Oxfam staff members physically threatened a witness during the charity’s internal
investigation. Haiti has threatened to expel Oxfam from the
country. This is Haiti’s external cooperation minister,
Aviol Fleurant. AVIOL FLEURANT: [translated] They admitted
that there is evidence that Oxfam U.K. was informed that these crimes occurred. What hurt me is that they admitted that Haitian
authorities had at no time been informed by Oxfam Haiti. AMY GOODMAN: Roughly 7,000 people have canceled
their donations to Oxfam since the scandal broke. This comes as another well-known charity,
Save the Children, is also facing a growing scandal. The charity has told British authorities it
has fired 30 employees after 120 misconduct complaints. Save the Children has also apologized to female
employees who complained about the former head of the organization, Justin Forsyth. Well, for more, we’re joined now by three
guests. From London, via Democracy Now! video stream, Sean O’Neill is with us, the
chief reporter at The Times newspaper in London, which broke the story of the Oxfam and Save
the Children scandals. In Miami, Florida, we’re joined by the great
Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat, author of a number of books, including The
Farming of Bones, which won an American Book Award. Danticat’s new book is The Art of Death:
Writing the Final Story. She has just returned from Haiti. And here in New York, Taina Bien-Aimé is
with us, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. We welcome you all to Democracy Now! Let’s go to London, where this story was
exposed by Sean O’Neill and the team at The Times of London. Can you talk about the chronology of what
you found out and what—of what you found out and when you found it out? SEAN O’NEILL: This story took quite a long
time to piece together. We—well, I had been working on it for approximately
10 months, starting with a very nervous contact approaching me, telling me that all is not
right with Oxfam and its behavior around the world, and took quite a long time to persuade
that person to give me more detail. And in October last year, we ran a story about
the treatment of Oxfam’s country director in Nigeria, a woman called Lesley Agams, who
was sexually assaulted while attending a conference in Oxford in 2010. It was her first time in Britain. She reported the sexual assault to her managers
at Oxfam. The assault was allegedly carried out by one
of her senior managers. She was not told to go to the police. She was not told to make a formal complaint. She was asked or advised to try and settle
that informally. Three months later, she was sacked by the
man she alleges had sexually assaulted her. When we ran that story and Oxfam admitted
they had got things wrong, that kind of opened the door to other people to come forward to
us with more information. And one of the first things that came out
was quite a lot of concern about what happened in Haiti in 2011, when—at the time, Oxfam
had put out a statement saying that seven people had been—seven men had been either
dismissed or allowed to resign for gross misconduct and bringing Oxfam into disrepute. But they did not go into the detail of what
happened. And we managed to track down several people
who knew exactly what had happened, had blown the whistle at the time and were still extremely
angry about the way Oxfam had handled that, but also extremely angry that—extremely
nervous, sorry, about speaking. So, it took a long time, again, to persuade
them to speak even off the record to us. But their accounts were bolstered; you know,
they verified each other, even though these people were not in touch with one another. Some of them were able to supply documents,
including the investigation report. And sort of by the end of January, we were
fairly confident we had the story in place. But then we had a long period of to and fro
with Oxfam about what they wanted to say, how they wanted to respond to it. We gave them a long time to respond. And really, for the first—you know, for
the first week—for the week before the story and the three or four days after the story,
they were still in denial. They were saying, “We didn’t hide anything. We had been totally transparent back in 2011.” And really, the unraveling of this, over the
past week, and the unraveling of their reputation, their global reputation, I think, has been
quite shocking. And I think that’s why it’s still having
ramifications today, you know, almost a fortnight after we broke the story. AMY GOODMAN: Well, let me go to Oxfam International
Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, who said, quote, “hideous men” had “abused the
trust” of the public and were not representative of Oxfam’s principles. WINNIE BYANYIMA: Please allow me to begin
by saying how sorry I am about what has happened. I’m ashamed. I’ve spent my life trying to stand up for
women’s rights and to fight for people living in poverty, so this is painful for me. So this is about aligning our people with
the values of Oxfam. Some hideous men came into our organization
and abused the trust of the British people, the supporters. But they were able to get away, to get a recommendation
to leave. This was wrong. So we’re going to change the culture. And working on the culture costs money, and
we’re going to put money on this. The use of prostitutes, in conditions of poverty
and helplessness and conflict, is exploitation. It is abuse. And it’s intolerable in our organization. What happened to let the country director
go away with some dignity was wrong. This is something that wouldn’t happen today
in Oxfam. AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Oxfam International
Executive Director Winnie Byanyima testifying before the British Parliament, somewhat undercut
by Oxfam’s chief executive, Mark Goldring, who apologized for implying international
outrage of Oxfam’s sex abuse scandal was overblown, saying it was not as if Oxfam,
quote, “murdered babies in their cots.” He said this in an interview with The Guardian. This is Stephen Twigg, chair of the International
Development Committee, questioning Goldring. STEPHEN TWIGG: In your interview with The
Guardian published on Saturday, you appeared to be downplaying this scandal, using the
parallel with the murder of babies in their cots, which many people regarded as grossly
inappropriate. Can I give you the opportunity to apologize? MARK GOLDRING: Certainly, Chairman, I do apologize. I was thinking under stress. I had given many interviews. I had made many decisions to try and lead
Oxfam’s response to this. I was thinking about amazing work I’d seen
Oxfam do across the world, most recently for refugees in—coming from Myanmar. I should not have said those things. It is not for Oxfam to judge issues of proportionality
or motivation. I repeat Oxfam’s broader apology and my
personal apology. I am sorry, we are sorry, for the damage that
Oxfam has done, both to the people of Haiti, but also to wider efforts for aid and development
by possibly undermining public support. So, I wholeheartedly apologize for those comments
and commit to work in that greater public interest, so that Oxfam can make a powerful
role in the work that we all believe in. AMY GOODMAN: That’s Oxfam’s chief executive,
Mark Goldring, apologizing for his comments that it’s not as if we were murdering babies
in their cots. So, Sean O’Neill, if you can talk specifically
about Haiti and the Haitian—and the director of Oxfam in Haiti, Roland Van Hauwermeiren,
and what exactly he is accused of doing, what you wrote about in The Times of London? SEAN O’NEILL: Van Hauwermeiren was the country
director, appointed shortly after the earthquake in 2010. He had a history of suspected misconduct. He was allowed to resign from a charity called
Merlin, which is now part of Save the Children, in Liberia in 2004. He joined Oxfam in 2006 in Chad. Again, there were concerns about what Oxfam
calls, in its report, “gender issues,” which is kind of management speak for, I guess,
misconduct towards women, either the beneficiaries or staff. And despite those issues, he was allowed to
move on to the Congo and then eventually to Haiti, where the allegations against him and
the allegations that were investigated and that he admitted to were that he was having
sex with native women, paying them for sex. And I’ve seen the transcript of his interview
with the Oxfam investigation. And he admits in there that he had what he
calls prostitutes visit him on two or three occasions at his home, which was, I believe,
quite a luxurious villa known as the Eagle’s Nest, where he lived alone, surrounded by
security guards. You know, he could live a very private and
secluded life there. But he also talks, in that interview with
the investigators, about young mothers coming to him and visiting him, and he’s giving
them baby milk, diapers, goods—you know, basically essentials that they are living
on—and implies that he’s doing that in return for sexual favors. And one of my colleagues is in Haiti at the
moment, has been reporting from Haiti and has tracked down and interviewed one of the
young women who slept with Van Hauwermeiren, who said, yes, he did trade aid for sex with
her, and that she was very young at the time, 16, 17, and that although she now looks back
on it, you know, with some distaste, she felt at the time it was saving her life and saving
her baby’s life. So, hugely exploitative conduct on his part. But quite separate from that, there was a
group of aid workers who were staying in an apartment block, who—just a group of men,
an all-male apartment block. And the allegations against them were that
they were bringing in prostitutes, or their Haitian drivers were being sent out at night
to bring in prostitutes, supplied by a local pimp, and that those women were being subjected
to some pretty degrading treatment. A number of those men, I believe, were found
guilty of gross misconduct. A number resigned will under investigation. A number were accused but were kind of acquitted. But we’re talking about, you know, an investigation
that was essentially carried out by an Oxfam anti-fraud team, not by experienced law enforcement
investigators or people experienced in sexual crimes. So, a lot of those people were subsequently
dismissed for lesser matters, such as the bullying and intimidation of witnesses or,
in one case, downloading pornography onto an Oxfam computer. So, there were a range of offenses, but the
common thread running through all of them was some pretty nasty sexual exploitation
of local women who were, you know, in desperate need after an earthquake that caused massive
devastation in Haiti. AMY GOODMAN: Well, on Monday, Oxfam released
an internal investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct that showed Oxfam’s
country director in Haiti, Roland Van Hauwermeiren, admitted to using prostitutes in his residence
during a humanitarian aid operation before his resignation in 2011. I mean, it’s amazing what you just pointed
out, that he was fired from another charity years before and Oxfam then picked him up,
not clear what they knew. Well, last week, Van Hauwermeiren dismissed
the allegations of sexual misconduct. ROLAND VAN HAUWERMEIREN: [translated] I don’t
feel good about the people who, of course, are told, by perhaps less professional journalists,
that Oxfam is an instrument to have sex orgies using the money from good civilians. That is absolutely not true. AMY GOODMAN: So, again, that’s Roland Van
Hauwermeiren. Sean O’Neill? SEAN O’NEILL: He’s entitled to his say,
but I’m very confident in my sources, both the human sources I’ve spoken to, who were
there at the time, who know exactly what went on in that investigation, and very confident
of the documents that we obtained, some of which are, you know, a transcript of his words. AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to come back to
this discussion. We’re talking to Sean O’Neill, who’s
the chief reporter at The Times of London on this piece, this series of pieces, that
is blowing open this scandal around Oxfam, as Oxfam tries to contain the damage. In addition, we’ll be joined by the Haitian-American
writer Edwidge Danticat and Taina Bien-Aimé, who is the head of the Coalition Against Trafficking
in Women. Stay with us. AMY GOODMAN: “American Poor,” a new song
by the band Dead Horses, debuting here on Democracy Now!

60 comments

  1. Is this one of those front organisations trying to destroy the West? ….y'know like BLM and Antifa ….the name just sounds a bit fishy 'Democracy Now!' ….sounds like they want to foster division ….. if it's like Antifa the channel backers probably want to destroy democracy

  2. Uhm this is ridiculous. Of course you wouldn't report prostitution activity to the police during a catastrophic crisis. Would you know what the police would do?
    It's clear that prostitution must not be a crime because that only creates more suffering. This bigotry displayed here is disgusting.

  3. The people of Haiti have been saying this. Food for sex .child sex brothels. Beatings and child trafficking. Organ harvasting the world powers knewvabout this they choose to do nothing.

  4. Save the children and the UN forces have been abusing children in Africa for a very long time. I remember in the mid 19's the sexual abuses of the children in Mozambique by save the children, and when came the time for the government to respond , they the government in Mozambique accused the children and the situation was cover up. Unfortunately

  5. Oxfam is staffed by rich kids who don't need a job because daddy is part of the establishment and they are volunteering as a "gap year" activity. To expect these over-privileged upper class twits to display appropriate behaviour is asking too much of them, they come from a culture of exploiting other people, so why should they act differently just because they are supposed to be providing aid. Remember TANSTAAFL.

  6. Amy Goodman is a Chabad mob media jew Construct feigning sincerity or she wouldn't get a platform…

    I worked for studios, one of my first jobs was at Universal Studios. Every other week, there was a bomb threat and they'd clear us out of the Lew Wasserman building like we were little children. I was so naive back then as to why. By the end of my tenure, I knew exactly why. Media is the 4th Branch of this unelected, criminal, Chabad mob government. Those people engage in such monstrous, criminal, deceit.

    By the end of my time in media industry, I can tell you they were throwing out real audiences and were hiring desperate low-income Blacks, with no geo-political understanding. Having them sign confidentiality agreements. Media Producers figured out a way to subsidize their hourly pay with taxpayer dollars. They were paid to feign sincerity for revenge aggressions in Middle East, give paid questions and responses, after their 911 false flag fiasco Greater Israel Expansion land grab. Both Bill Maher on the left and FOX Media on the right, engaged in this criminality, as well as many other media outlets. Making these demeaned, dumbed-down, Blacks do retakes for maximum revenge fervor. I know this is overused, but it was absolutely so surreal. They would indoctrinate them first with game shows, then they would graduate them. And pay them a little more💰 for political shows….

    I lived all over L.A., San Fernando Valley… Finally Eagle Rock/Mt. Washington area, when all of the 911 propaganda took place.

    I'm sorry but Hollywood has to go! Art was never meant to be centralized in one place for long as it has been. And certainly not in the same Chabad Mob's grip. Art grows stagnant and agenda-driven, and downright wicked left in one place, especially Hollywood/aka Newest Babylon…

    Or sometimes they get "actors"/tools, like Ashton Kutcher to testify in front of Congress and U.N, pay them real big shekels. Same thing as dumbed-down, demeaned Blacks, only more prominent venues. Ashton and his wife Mila own multi-million💰penthouse in Tel Aviv. It was so ridiculous, he testified, stealing lines from Rickie Lee Jones song "Flying Cowboys", he even used her phrasing, I caught it right away, omg, it was so ridiculous and sad too… There's no authenticity in this current way of life, it's disheartening….

    Jew deceit never ends, in fake tech either..
    I have mapped out all of NASA's land grabs, those, along with CIA/MOSSAD' Zuckerberg's Menlo Park CA compound, another fraudulent Construct. These are more than what they appear to be strategically. Pricey real estate driving citizenry into interior. I don't know if anyone else has noticed how Machiavellian this looks and is, just on the surface.

    I saw the fake Zuckerberg marriage as a ceremonious, Masonic Construct as well. MOSSAD passing West off to China for assistance with Greater Israel Expansion. There's nothing Harvard Dormroom, 'inventor-ish' about Howdy Doody' Zuckerberg, okay maybe Zuckerberg's Howdy Doody face, but he's just a fake frontman. These are foreign military ops. Printing money for themselves, while 1/4 of U.S homeless live in California. They're bringing in Chinese and paying them $200,000+ annually to start. Perth Cyprus, etc., This is a global crime syndicate, the Art of War… Move peasantry to interior, encircle them… People need to grow up!
    Once you see, you can't unsee…

  7. Why do you think Bill Clinton spent so much time there not just a steal a country's resources and take out there democratically elected leader, !

  8. Every person involved in this should be sent to Haiti for public investigation and trial for any crimes committed. Will not happen of course.

  9. This scandal is bad, but if you put everything in perspective Oxfam does amazing work in developing countries that other governments can't and won't do – the benefits, aid and logistics they provide far outweighs any harm that has been done. Look what the governments are doing; it is the height of hypocrisy for the government of Haiti (which is one of the most corrupt in the world) to criticise Oxfam with fake outrage, they've done far worse stuff and still got away with it. Same goes for the British government responsible for deaths of million people in the middle east for Oil by pretending Saddam Hussein had WMDs – and nobody has even been prosecuted for that shit. Sexual misconduct is prevalent in every organisation this is not an isolated case.

  10. Unfortunately the charity sector is run to the same model as other capitalist corporations. We should set up all organizations (volunteer as well as trading) as co-operatives in order to build in consensual working practices and engage workers at all levels in an organization, not just empower those at the top.

  11. Exploitation is more and more the theme of political events the world over. The degradation of humanity is so pervasive that it does not matter where you live you are exploited through neglect or abuse working in some capacity for the illegal conversion of services into cold hard callous cash.

  12. It's a shame that people make money off the poor and the unfortunate. And then retire with there head held up high like they've really done something. and then have the nerve in the audacity to feel proud about it when in all actuality they have done nothing but stagnant stagnated people's lives and kept them trapped.

  13. When corporations, government, non-profits or just about any organization gets too big this is what happens. They become dinosaurs that are not efficient, well run, and the people that get to the top are corrupted by too much money and power and the fear of losing it. Too big to fail = too big to function well.

  14. This is EXACTLY one of the reasons why developing countries need to BAN foreign NGO's, and NGO's altogether. This shit will only stop once you/they STOP ALLOWING these NGO's to act like the savages that they are. Enough is enough.

  15. All these "charitable" organizations, NGO's etc. are all about connections and favours. The reason why this guy got a job with Oxfam after being sacked from his previous position with a charitable organization only a few years prior was due to his political and business connections, nothing more. NGO's and Charities are part of the corrupt money train the Elites have been on since their inceptions. NGO's, Charities, Consultancies, Lobbyists, Corporate Media etc. is their world, mostly funded by your tax dollars, pounds etc. It's all part of their revolving door and as George Carlin put it, "It's one big club and you ain't in it."…RIP….

  16. Charities have become nothing more than scams and covers for corporate and elite interests to gain access to their objectives

  17. They used their own money to hire hookers and had sex with them. They did not use charity money. So it is really a non-story.

  18. NGos are not only involved in sex scandals, they are also involved organ harvesting as well as destabilizing Africa and countries of black people. They sell also weapons

  19. Thank you for reporting this. I did not here anything from this on other medias and was shocked, when a friend of mine told me about this.

  20. People of America and elsewhere; those in charge of Oxfam et. al. at the time of these allegations should face charges for failing to report suspected crimes to authorities. These enablers should be prosecuted and be nailed to the cross of corporate complicity. They should not be afforded immunity due to status or position.

  21. Appalling 😔 I hope these people are named, shamed and prosecuted where appropriate. Well done to the Times for uncovering and those that exposed this. Disgusting

  22. It's endemic, even the UK police aspire to sexually exploit vulnerable prostitutes and the charity Victim Support doesn't appear to have much to say to the contrary. See the evidence for yourself : https://youtu.be/3T8MFht_NIk

  23. Fuckers..if they reported these rapes to the Haitian police, oxfam would have had to compensate the victims financially because it was their staff who perpetrated these crimes..people, the cover up is financially motivated..they will have to compensate the child victims in the UK shops

  24. Are comments being removed? Where's the child-trafficking (and pizza gate) comments? YouTube commenters, you disappoint me.

  25. I have a lot of respect for Democracy Now covering this appalling scandal. Those workers should be in jail and Oxfam's leadership handled this situation horribly! There's another good report on it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDFF9P1qaKc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *