Many shocking stories of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse at the workplace have been finally exposed to the public since the #MeToo campaign was launched in October of last year. Starting first with the film industry, the focus continues to shift from one profession to another. The revelations of alleged sexual misconduct have been extensive and grave, and the area of international aid and development has not been immune to these accusations. It has become known that certain development workers had sexually abused earthquake victims in Haiti, and a UN report reveals that war victims in Syria and Jordan have also been exposed to sexual exploitation.
It is incomprehensible that those who were meant to alleviate suffering have inflicted further trauma and pain on innocent victims. Though this is difficult for us to understand, we do not want to be in denial that this is a huge problem that can also hit our organization, member organizations or partner organizations. A number of Digni’s member organizations have worked with this theme for a long time, and had begun planning a project around non-financial impropriety before the #MeToo movement started. The project will include the themes of sexual abuse, exploitation and harassment.
We support the appeal of Foreign Affairs Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide and International Development Minister Nikolai Astrup, that all organizations receiving government support through Norad and the Foreign Affairs Department have relevant guidelines and easily accessible communication and warning channels. The Norwegian authorities promise to ensure that this takes place.