It came to light earlier this year that Oxfam Great Britain, like Hollywood has had to reckon with its ownsexual misconduct. The allegations are not just a reflection of Oxfam Great Britain, but a wider representation of a professional field when confronted with its shortcomings have at most times failed to accept its responsibilities. The international aid sector aims to improve the lives of marginalized people. There is a big power imbalance between those carrying the beacon of hope and the beneficiaries. After being revealed in The Times that top Oxfam staff paid Haitian earthquake survivors for sex, the media along with the Oxfam Great Britain quickly changed the narrative. The story no longer focused on the fact that during one of the most disastrous humanitarian crises those who were responsible for helping and rebuilding Haiti participated in what Oxfam has branded as transactional sex.
Somewhere in between providing humanitarian aid, Oxfam staff, volunteers, andother personnel behaved in horrid behaviors. The ones we have been able to hear about arethe cases where the country director, at that time, was accused of hiring prostitutes simultaneously while otherworkers were holding regular sex parties with prostitutes. The country director has unequivocally denied hiring prostitutes but insisted he had an affair with a woman whose family was receiving aid from the charity.
The media and the countless communications experts at Oxfam want us to believe one thing: Oxfam employees in Haiti have not done anything wrong. Namely, they did not do anything immoral or illegal. The worst offense they did was engaging in transactional sex with sex workers. However, it is important to note that these staff not only engaged in illegal activity—disrespecting the law of the country they were in—but acted unethically. What does that say about our easy acceptance of this scandal as a prostitution scandal? It means we, especially the people who work in the aid sector, easily accept the delusion we do good without causing harms while there is plenty evidence that the band-aid approaches we implement are ineffective but guarantee our return whenever we want to throw our cape to become saviors.If the international aid sector truly wants to beeffective,it must lead consciously and disregard its business interests to safeguard those it seeks to help.
Daphney is passionate about finding sustainable solutions to poverty. In this Blog with HaitiLuxe, she aims to engage Haitians in the social development of Haiti and hope to spark the interest of everyday-Haitians in the development of their own country.