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Source: (consider it) Thread: Aid workers and prostitution
mr cheesy
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Lots of things have been written recently about Oxfam workers and Haiti, specifically about investigations and individuals being fired. The British government seems posed to use this as a stick to beat Oxfam - and some are using it as a reason to attack the whole idea of aid and development.

The problem is that it isn't just Oxfam and I've heard statements from workers for many years that field placements are rife with sexual exploitation.

I think I've mentioned before that I was told that the head of a Christian NGO was well-known for being involved in various disgusting things, but was said to be untouchable. As I said before, the person who told me was fearful and gave few details and I was not in a position to dig further.

What is there to be done? What a mess.

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arse

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Baptist Trainfan
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It's not helpful that yesterday's Daily Mail headline used the scandal as something of a stick to bash all foreign aid.
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Alan Cresswell

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The Daily Mail rarely (if ever) helps.

This perspective from our own Dave Walker is much more helpful.

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Alan Cresswell

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Sexual abuse and exploitation is found in every area of life, that aid agencies are not immune from the same problems (including the cover ups) shouldn't surprise anyone.

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Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
Sexual abuse and exploitation is found in every area of life, that aid agencies are not immune from the same problems (including the cover ups) shouldn't surprise anyone.

and indeed the very power differentials that are present in Aid - together with a lot of work being done by expats who are temporarily removed from their home legal environment is likely to exacerbate the entire thing.
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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
Sexual abuse and exploitation is found in every area of life, that aid agencies are not immune from the same problems (including the cover ups) shouldn't surprise anyone.

I think it is different because aid workers are in such a position of power and the people they're engaging with are so weak.

The aidworkers are far from home, have limited supervision, have western salaries and few journalists around to see what they're doing (and to be fair, I've also heard stories about bad journalist behaviour in disaster areas).

It's arguably a secondary (but a disgusting, unacceptable one) result of the amounts of cash that slosh around, particularly after disasters.

Of course, there is also an issue about the difference between "aid-work" verses "disaster relief" and I'm not entirely clear that this problem is solely in the latter rather than the former scenario.

The DM can jump off a cliff but these reports are clearly worrying and add to the pile of problems to assess when donating to charity. There is the phenomena of A-list celebs jetting in and out of disaster areas. There are issues with regard to effectiveness and duplication and corruption.

I too think that aid is important and am proud to live in a community that is aware of its responsibilities. But I don't know that these problems can simply be swept under the carpet nor am I sure how to determine which of all the competing tugs on donations are worth supporting.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:

The aidworkers are far from home, have limited supervision, have western salaries and few journalists around to see what they're doing (and to be fair, I've also heard stories about bad journalist behaviour in disaster areas).

I've also heard plenty of stories about expats in poor countries behaving badly - the dynamic is much the same.
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Curiosity killed ...

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There was an interview from someone who is part of the Charities' Regulator on yesterday's R4 Today Programme, at 1:09 to 1:15, querying how much safeguarding and scrutiny happened and a second clip talking to Andrew McLeod of Hear Their Cries and Kevin Watkins from Save the Children about issues within the whole sector, starting at 2:09. The second clip suggests that "predatory paedophiles" are using work in the charity sectors to enable and hide their activities.

The Charity Commission did not check Oxfam's dossier, just accepted that the issue had been resolved.

In the second clip, there was an acknowledgement that the sector has been aware of sexual predators using charities for 30 years. Save the Children pass their files to the police, both in the country of origin of the worker and the country where the offence happened, when they find malefactors, apparently Oxfam does not follow this policy. Child sex tourism is an international crime.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:

The aidworkers are far from home, have limited supervision, have western salaries and few journalists around to see what they're doing (and to be fair, I've also heard stories about bad journalist behaviour in disaster areas).

I've also heard plenty of stories about expats in poor countries behaving badly - the dynamic is much the same.
Tourists are notorious for behaving worse abroad. One is hidden, in a sense.
I wonder, with aid workers, if the idea that they are doing good is not also an excuse to do bad. This isn’t an uncommon psychological phenomenon.
Nothing will prevent this from happening, though better control can reduce it. There will always be abuse. We are a horrible species.

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If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
The second clip suggests that "predatory paedophiles" are using work in the charity sectors to enable and hide their activities.

Of course they are. Any position that facilitates abuse will attract abusers. But I think the relative obscurity also draws out abuse from those who might not have done so had they been home.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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mr cheesy
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Anyone want to argue that there is something different about going to (adult) prostitutes and other sexual misconduct in this scenario?

I don't for a range of reasons but I'd be interested to see if anyone wants to defend aidworkers going to prostitutes.

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arse

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DonLogan2
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During my stint with the armed forces going to prostitutes was par for the course for some. One of these guys also admitted to me that during the 70`s he was on disaster relief in the windies and had used food for sexual favours.

I think it is a mindset for some males, whether it is nature or nurture that makes them think it right is another matter

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Sioni Sais
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Journalists based overseas OTOH are impeccably behaved.

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Mark Wuntoo
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Anyone want to argue that there is something different about going to (adult) prostitutes and other sexual misconduct in this scenario?

I don't for a range of reasons but I'd be interested to see if anyone wants to defend aidworkers going to prostitutes.

I think prostitution is illegal in Haiti? So it's wrong and should be condemned for that reason.
But where (adult) prostitution is not illegal I can see a big difference - it's not the same as child abuse or exploitation (except that I can see that some would want to describe it as exploitation). Note: prostitutes can be either female or male, of course.

Having traveled and lived overseas I have witnessed those who fall to the temptations that come with being away from the home environment: for example, I've been aware of male prostitutes available to young American women and, in another place, sexual goings-on between local men and women and members of the British military.

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Barnabas62
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Because I think the sex trade is essentially exploitive of sex workers, making use of the services of sex workers is supporting that exploitation. So I think it's wrong for that reason. But it's not the same as direct sexual exploitation of people they are there to help. That is direct abuse of power. The other is colluding with exploitation.

The net result of this will probably be a reduction of aid contributions, at least for a while.

Agencies are going to have to get their safeguarding act together very quickly. Screening processes and local management trusted too much and have paid a big price. But the biggest price continues to be paid by the by the needy.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Wuntoo:
I think prostitution is illegal in Haiti? So it's wrong and should be condemned for that reason.
But where (adult) prostitution is not illegal I can see a big difference - it's not the same as child abuse or exploitation (except that I can see that some would want to describe it as exploitation). Note: prostitutes can be either female or male, of course.

OK. But even if one thinks prostitution isn't necessarily undesirable in the abstract, surely in a disaster situation the chances of exploitation (and/or desperation) must be many times greater than in (let's say) an ideal Western scenario.

So one can, presumably, think prostitution is generally fine but still find this extremely problematic.

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arse

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
Journalists based overseas OTOH are impeccably behaved.

Wrong. There was no need to include "based overseas".

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Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Anyone want to argue that there is something different about going to (adult) prostitutes and other sexual misconduct in this scenario?

I don't for a range of reasons but I'd be interested to see if anyone wants to defend aidworkers going to prostitutes.

Nope.

The adults in a disaster zone would be vulnerable adults by anyone’s standards.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Wuntoo:
sexual goings-on between local men and women and members of the British military.

Given the particular political leanings of those making most noise out of the Oxfam scandal, I doubt if they'll address this particular angle.
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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
Sexual abuse and exploitation is found in every area of life, that aid agencies are not immune from the same problems (including the cover ups) shouldn't surprise anyone.

But I don't know that these problems can simply be swept under the carpet.
I'm certainly not advocating that we sweep anything under the carpet. But, neither should we blow things out of all proportion.

Aid agencies have a duty of care to those they serve, to their own staff and volunteers (and, I would expect there would be sexual abuse and exploitation of junior members of staff, as well as of members of the community they are there to help), and to their donors. Clearly that would include internal discipline, and involvement of police as appropriate, when abuse is reported. Clearly in this case Oxfam failed in that if, as is reported, there was illegal activity that was not reported to the local police as well as UK police (if it involved children, or otherwise broke UK law) and there was inadequate internal discipline. Of course, we're still working on partial accounts and it's unclear exactly what happened.

On the other side of that is that I'm certain that aid workers do considerable good. Although it would be far better if aid workers didn't cause harm by sexually exploiting the vulnerable, the greater good aid agencies do is reason enough to continue to support them.

Plus, of course, those who are screaming the most about these events are often the same people who highlight how much money given to charities is "wasted in administration" - and, safeguarding is an administrative cost. And, also in most cases don't exactly have clean hands with regard to sexual abuse within their own organisations.

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Lucia

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As a tangent I'm interested in the timing of this sudden revisiting of an issue from 7 years ago.
Undoubtedly there are serious issues around safeguarding within charitable and development work, as there are for many large organisations where people work in contact with vulnerable people.

But I can't help wondering if Oxfam has some powerful enemies who would love to make trouble for it. They have been much more vocal in recent years about the causes of poverty, in particular highlighting how much of the world,s wealth and income is owned by a small number of people. Only last month they released a new report into this to coincide with the World Economic forum meetings in Davos. I can quite imagine that this is not popular with certain people, perhaps certain people who have the ear of a newspaper like The Times, or are supporters of the Conservative Party...

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Anyone want to argue that there is something different about going to (adult) prostitutes and other sexual misconduct in this scenario?

I don't for a range of reasons but I'd be interested to see if anyone wants to defend aidworkers going to prostitutes.

An argument could be made for prostitution (and other parts of the sex industry) to be a service industry, and that if similar rights and conditions for other service industries are applied then the moral arguments become different. So, if prostitutes supply their service for a fair salary, have safe working conditions, work within a defined contractual arrangement, have control over what they provide (most importantly the right to say "no" at any time) etc then maybe that can be a non-exploitative and abuse free contractual service industry.

The problem is that the vast majority of prostitution is nothing like that. And, can never be like that when there is a large differential in wealth between the prostitute and the client. And, in situations like this where the client is a western aid worker then there will always be a massive differential in power, that can not be anything other than exploitative.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Lucia:
As a tangent I'm interested in the timing of this sudden revisiting of an issue from 7 years ago.
Undoubtedly there are serious issues around safeguarding within charitable and development work, as there are for many large organisations where people work in contact with vulnerable people.

But I can't help wondering if Oxfam has some powerful enemies who would love to make trouble for it. They have been much more vocal in recent years about the causes of poverty, in particular highlighting how much of the world,s wealth and income is owned by a small number of people. Only last month they released a new report into this to coincide with the World Economic forum meetings in Davos. I can quite imagine that this is not popular with certain people, perhaps certain people who have the ear of a newspaper like The Times, or are supporters of the Conservative Party...

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist I think this is almost a given. The icing on the cake for, I suspect, the same people, is the way it's giving the gutter press an opportunity to attack the whole concept of aid.

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Tortuf
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Using the Oxfam fracas to argue against foreign aid has a big logical hole in it. "Our citizens behave badly, therefore those foreigners should just go ahead and suffer and die."

People do bad things. Some of those people try to do good things to make them feel better about the bad things they do. Some more sociopathic types use the suffering of others to sexually exploit those who are suffering.

As long as you think of another person as lesser than yourself exploiting the other is easy.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Tortuf:


As long as you think of another person as lesser than yourself exploiting the other is easy.

Again, this is a troubling idea in-and-of-itself given we're talking about aidworkers.

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arse

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
I've also heard plenty of stories about expats in poor countries behaving badly - the dynamic is much the same.

And there's the GIs in the second world war - over sexed, over paid, and over here!

I think all these arguments about exploitation rest on there being something special about sex, don't they? (I do think that there is something special about sex, so agree with most of what has been posted here so far.)

If you are of the opinion that sex is just an enjoyable thing that people do, and doesn't have any special significance, is it worse to exploit a prostitute than it is to pay similarly small sums of money to exploit a local person to cook for you, drive you around, or whatever?

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Lola

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I typed an OP on this yesterday having listened to Today Program interview mentioned above but deleted it. Apparently a radio interview this lunchtime had a caller claim to have used adult prostitues in Bosnia and think this was completely fine. I agree with Boogie that people in need to aid are by definition vulnerable.

A few things worry me - the figures being quoted declared by major charities for their last year are that Oxfam investigated 87 allegations, Save The Children 30 and Christian Aid 2. I have a long standing regular donation to Save the Children. I have an even longer standing and larger regular donation to Christian Aid for whom I have also marched, written letters and delivered envelopes. I love the work of Christian Aid and Save the Children.

It seems we have seen two types of scandal enveloping major organisations - the We Knew So Moved them On Quietly story (maybe familiar in churches, football coaching, schools) and the We Were Told and We Refused to Listen (BBC Jimmy Saville, USA gymnastics). Is this one of these stories? Or something else.

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quetzalcoatl
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As others have said, the right wing press are now going flat out to discredit foreign aid over the issue of sexual exploitation. I noticed this morning, that the Daily Mail was targeting Oxfam shops, where they claim sex abuse is rife. Seems unlikely to me.

It's all very selective also. Again, as others have said, expats probably use local women for sex quite widely - for example, businessmen, soldiers, medical staff, teachers, and so on. I suppose the right wing will ignore them, as foreign aid is 'our money' which should be spent on ourselves.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Tortuf:
Using the Oxfam fracas to argue against foreign aid has a big logical hole in it. "Our citizens behave badly, therefore those foreigners should just go ahead and suffer and die."
.

Not so big it can't be plugged by a desire not to send those foreign people any of our money. Usually disguised as "charity begins at home", but usually said by people who (a) have no idea what the phrase means, (b) never give to home charities either, and (c) bizarrely think that "starts" means "finishes".

Mostly readers of the Express.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Enoch
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I'm very, very suspicious of the furore. I'm sure it's driven by people who want an excuse to cut aid, and is timed to try to distract everyone's attention to the complete pigs ear the government is making at the moment of its brexit programme - or, rather, lack of it.


Also suspicious is that Ms Mordaunt et al haven't even been prepared to make it clear which outrage it is we're supposed to be enraged about.

Is it just that some aid workers are less than perfect - if you work in the aid sector, does that mean people are entitled to expect you to be a better person than everyone else, as though you were ordained, say?

Is it that some aid workers do things in their leisure time that the rest of us regard as grubby and/or exploitative - but in all my years working, I've no idea whether any of my colleagues habitually visited prostitutes or not. It's not the sort of thing people usually tell their workmates or managers about?

Is it that some of them were charging prostitutes to expenses - bad and a sackable offence in most lines of work?

Or is it that they were dispensing aid in return for sexual favours - that would be really bad and abhorrent? But if it actually was the latter, one would have expected that to have been at the core of the accusations and to have been much more explicit.


At the moment, I'm inclined to think this is yet another hate-fest being orchestrated by a government I no longer trust that wants to use sanctimony for nefarious purposes of its own.

[ 13. February 2018, 13:40: Message edited by: Enoch ]

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Brexit wrexit - Sir Graham Watson

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by Lola:
A few things worry me - the figures being quoted declared by major charities for their last year are that Oxfam investigated 87 allegations, Save The Children 30 and Christian Aid 2.

I had a look to see how many staff and volunteers those charities have. I couldn't find numbers for Christian Aid (the form of partnership they favour probably wouldn't make those numbers meaningful anyway). But for Oxfam I got 2,500 staff and 31,000 volunteers, and for Save the Children UK 1,150 staff and 13,000 volunteers - which gives a rate of allegations at about 0.0025 per staff or volunteer. If those numbers include instances of using a prostitute while overseas then compare that to stories that 3.6% of British men have paid for sex with prostitutes in the last five years and that rate of allegations is minuscule. It would need to represent only 1% of all instances of aid workers engaging in sexual misconduct to even be of the same magnitude as the proportion of British men who use prostitutes.

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mr cheesy
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Ok but most Oxfam staff and volunteers don't work overseas, Alan. These are significant numbers compared to the numbers working in the field.

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arse

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LeRoc

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I don't think organisations can control very well what their staff does in their free time, even if they wanted to.

Take for a moment a normal British company that has an employee who also lives and works in Britain. The company can't control what this person does in his free time. Even if he would visit a prostitute, this hasn't very much to do with his employer.

It's not that different for an employee who lives abroad on a British contract. Even if Oxfam wanted to, it couldn't prohibit its employers in Haiti or elsewhere to visit prostitutes. I don't think the fact that prostitution is illegal in these countries makes much of a difference either. Even then, if an employee does it in his free time, this wouldn't involve the employer. It's between the person and the police, the employer has nothing to do with that.

I never had a "thou shalt not visit prostitutes clause" in any of my labour contracts. I don't think such a clause is possible if your contract is under most European jurisdictions.

Usually, contracts have a clause that says "In your personal conduct in the country of employment, you shall not do anything that will blemish the reputation of your employer." But I think that in the case of a discrete prostitute visit (once again, even where this is illegal) this clause would be difficult to enforce.

One version I heard is that this took place within the Oxfam compound, and that the prostitutes were invited there. That makes things different. But in the case of an individual in his free time?

Sexual harassment within the workplace and child molestation are different things. Clauses about this *can* be in a European contract (they are in mine). But I don't think there can be such things in case of individual prostitute visits in an employer's free time.

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mr cheesy
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I am not a lawyer, I have no idea about enforceability of the following.

However I'm just going to put the Save the Children code of practice here to me this suggests paying for sex whilst overseas working for StC is unacceptable.

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LeRoc

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quote:
mr cheesy: However I'm just going to put the Save the Children code of practice here to me this suggests paying for sex whilst overseas working for StC is unacceptable.
Okay, I'd never seen this clause myself. And yes, I have doubts about its enforceability.

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Stetson
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@ Le Roc ^^^ I think, though, that there is a general idea(even if not always explicitly stated) among aid groups and their allies that a) prostitution is a bad thing, and b) its prevalence is connected to the same socioeconomic problems that the aid groups are trying to alleviate.

So, yes, while organization can't control what their workers do on their spare time, if it is found that some of those workers are engaged in exploitative(by the standards of the aid community itself) practices in the third world, a lot of people are gonna say "Hm, these guys don't seem to take their mission very seriously. So why should anyone else?"

And it's a legitimate question, even if open to manipulation by the Daily Mail.

[ 13. February 2018, 14:43: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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LeRoc

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Just to add: I'm not sure if the clause "exchanging money, employment, goods or services for sexual favours" is about individual prostitution visits, or more about giving someone *company* resources in exchange for sex. I guess this would be a legal hellhole all by itself.

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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LeRoc

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quote:
Stetson: So, yes, while organization can't control what their workers do on their spare time, if it is found that some of those workers are engaged in exploitative(by the standards of the aid community itself) practices in the third world, a lot of people are gonna say "Hm, these guys don't seem to take their mission very seriously. So why should anyone else?"
This puts organisations in quite a bind, when they can't control their employers' free time, yet they will be judged on their behaviour. It isn't easy.

I think all they can do is try to manage it, keep it as low as possible. Clauses like the one from Save the Children may be more with this objective in mind than about legal enforcement.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
Just to add: I'm not sure if the clause "exchanging money, employment, goods or services for sexual favours" is about individual prostitution visits, or more about giving someone *company* resources in exchange for sex. I guess this would be a legal hellhole all by itself.

I'm not just being argumentative, but this is clearly about individual behaviour. The previous clause says

quote:

Save the Children, therefore does not tolerate the following:

engaging in sexual relations with anyone under the age of 18, or abuse or exploit a child in any way

These are clearly "you shall not" statements.

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arse

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LeRoc

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quote:
mr cheesy: I'm not just being argumentative, but this is clearly about individual behaviour.
If you say so; it's not so clear to me.

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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Stetson
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quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
quote:
mr cheesy: I'm not just being argumentative, but this is clearly about individual behaviour.
If you say so; it's not so clear to me.
Well, having sex with someone under the age of 18 is definitely something that can be done without using the resources of the overall organization. So, when they say that they are against that, full stop, we can probably assume that includes private actions.

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Alan Cresswell

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quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
I don't think organisations can control very well what their staff does in their free time, even if they wanted to.

Yet, most organisations do have policies relating to staff activities outside work. How quickly would someone be facing HR if they posted racist abuse on their personal Twitter account at the weekend? Or, engaged in hooliganism at the footie on a Saturday? Or was arrested for sexual assault? How many cricketers get knocked off the touring squad for involvement in a punch-up outside a pub, even before charges are place let alone a conviction? Or, footballers caught speeding?

Is it just that these are illegal, and an employer can sanction an employee who has acted illegally on their own time, but not if they do something legal but distasteful? But, if it's about legality then paying for the services of prostitutes where that is illegal counts.

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LeRoc

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quote:
Stetson: Well, having sex with someone under the age of 18 is definitely something that can be done without using the resources of the overall organization. So, when they say that they are against that, full stop, we can probably assume that includes private actions.
Yes.

But there is a malpractice, for selecting beneficiaries for food distribution, of doing so in exchange of sexual favours. I have the feeling that the second clause is more about that, because it mentions employment, goods or services.

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LeRoc

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quote:
Alan Cresswell: How quickly would someone be facing HR if they posted racist abuse on their personal Twitter account at the weekend? Or, engaged in hooliganism at the footie on a Saturday? Or was arrested for sexual assault? How many cricketers get knocked off the touring squad for involvement in a punch-up outside a pub, even before charges are place let alone a conviction? Or, footballers caught speeding?
Some of these fall under the clause I mentioned "Don't do anything in your free time that might blemish your employer's reputation". Some high-profile cases aside, I don't have the impression that it's easy to fire someone based on this clause.

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I know why God made the rhinoceros, it's because He couldn't see the rhinoceros, so He made the rhinoceros to be able to see it. (Clarice Lispector)

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
Yes.

But there is a malpractice, for selecting beneficiaries for food distribution, of doing so in exchange of sexual favours. I have the feeling that the second clause is more about that, because it mentions employment, goods or services.

Just to clarify: it is your belief that no EU-based NGO has the legal authority to insist that workers overseas abstain from paid-for-sex. Is that right?

Do you think that those NGOs have any business acting in any way on things employees do in their spare time? Do you think Oxfam could/should have simply shrugged when presented with evidence that staff had visited prostitutes and done nothing?

I'm confused about what you think happened here. Is it your position that Oxfam and the others acted unreasonably if they fired staff for visiting prostitutes? That the reports and investigations must have been about more than paying adult prostitutes for sex?

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LeRoc

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quote:
mr cheesy: Just to clarify: it is your belief that no EU-based NGO has the legal authority to insist that workers overseas abstain from paid-for-sex. Is that right?
Not exactly. It is my belief that when EU-based NGOs want to punish (fire) their workers at home or oversees for engaging in paid-for-sex in their free time, they'll have a hard time doing so. And it will probably be costly.

quote:
mr cheesy: Do you think that those NGOs have any business acting in any way on things employees do in their spare time?
This is difficult. There are some things employees may not do in their free time: mostly they may not engage in child exploitation. They may also not post negative things openly about their employer (I have such a clause). And there is this vague clause "don't blemish your employer's reputation".

Employers may try to enforce this, and some will be more successful than others. What I'm saying is: this is difficult, and the legal system isn't always on their side here.

quote:
mr cheesy: Do you think Oxfam could/should have simply shrugged when presented with evidence that staff had visited prostitutes and done nothing?
No, of course not. In these cases, the right thing is to fire people. They probably have taken a financial hit doing so (which will ultimately be paid by their donors).

quote:
mr cheesy:[qb] I'm confused about what you think happened here.

I don't really know what happened here, I haven't followed this closely.

The only thing I'm saying is that it isn't easy for an organisation to balance their mission/reputationary requirements with their employee's rights, especially in their free time. More so with the Daily Mail pounding on them.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:

I think all these arguments about exploitation rest on there being something special about sex, don't they? (I do think that there is something special about sex, so agree with most of what has been posted here so far.)

If you are of the opinion that sex is just an enjoyable thing that people do, and doesn't have any special significance, is it worse to exploit a prostitute than it is to pay similarly small sums of money to exploit a local person to cook for you, drive you around, or whatever?

Yes, it is worse. I think this will always be the case, even removing the old fashioned and religious objections.
Whilst I am on the sex-positive end of the spectrum, it is still an intimate act involving one's person. And thus will always be exploitable.
In order for your position to work, even if true, would require the entire world to be a fair and equitable place. So, ain't gonna happen.
quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:

So, yes, while organization can't control what their workers do on their spare time, if it is found that some of those workers are engaged in exploitative(by the standards of the aid community itself) practices in the third world, a lot of people are gonna say "Hm, these guys don't seem to take their mission very seriously. So why should anyone else?"

And it's a legitimate question, even if open to manipulation by the Daily Mail.

Understandable? Yes. Legitimate, not so much. If the aid workers are distributing aid whilst misbehaving, then the charity is filling the function that they are intended to do. bringing them to account is absolutely the right thing to do. No longer funding the aid, isn't.

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If it's not here soon, I might be done
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Doublethink.
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To be fair to Oxfam, they did carry out an investigation, they did fire people involved and they did report to the charities regulator and in their public reports about their work, and then they instituted new safeguarding procedures.

I mean what did the charities regulator think "sexual misconduct" meant ?

(And unlike in most scandals of this type, those investigations happened close to the time of the allegations and the people were fired then and procedures changed then. Oxfam have not suddenly decided to act on this in relation to the current press story.)

Obviously, they could have done better, given this was a carry over from Chad in terms of allegations against one specific individual - but I don't think they deserve quite the level of vilification they are getting.

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Stetson
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Stetson:

So, yes, while organization can't control what their workers do on their spare time, if it is found that some of those workers are engaged in exploitative(by the standards of the aid community itself) practices in the third world, a lot of people are gonna say "Hm, these guys don't seem to take their mission very seriously. So why should anyone else?"

And it's a legitimate question, even if open to manipulation by the Daily Mail.

Understandable? Yes. Legitimate, not so much. If the aid workers are distributing aid whilst misbehaving, then the charity is filling the function that they are intended to do. bringing them to account is absolutely the right thing to do. No longer funding the aid, isn't.
The thing is, though, the claims made by Oxfam aren't empirically verifiable in the same way that the claims made by, say, a doctor are.

If a doctor advises me to quit smoking, but I find out that he smokes himself, his private inconsistency doesn't change the fact that the harms of smoking have been proven over and over again, and can be verified by a simple google search.

But when someone from Oxfam says "Human trafficiking is a big problem", that's a little less subject to easy verification. There are some people who argue that the whole alleged problem is just overblown hype, and most of the supposedly trafficked women are in the trade voluntarily, which doesn't sit well with the neo-puritan do-gooders, who've whipped up this moral panic about human-trafficking in order to stigmatize a legitimate business and make themselves look like heroes, so why should anyone give their money to these pearl-clutching con artists?

Now, as it happens, I believe the analysis of the NGOs moreso than I believe the analysis of the prostitution apologists. But that's because I have a certain degree of faith in the people who staff those NGOs and are making the claims. I haven't made any examinations of the third-world sex trade myself, so I have to rely on the people who have. But that becomes a bit more difficult if some of those people are found to be doing things which belie the whole idea that the third-world sex trade is harmful.

TL/DR: A perceived "Do as I say, not as I do" ethos is harmful to the credibility of the NGOs, and could result in less public support for their causes.

[ 13. February 2018, 17:04: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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Sarasa
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After the mention that the Daily Mail was gunning for Oxfam shops in the UK I had a quick look at the article, as I actually volunteer in one. It mixed up what is happening in places such as Haiti with the fact that not every volunteer has a security check. That puzzles me, surely they wouldn't be suggesting everyone who worked in the local supermarket was checked. I know paid staff and volunteers who work with young people on work experience etc are checked, but why check everyone else, we work a very few hours a week, there are always other people there and we have lots of training/reminders about appropriate behaviour.
I definitely think there is a certain amount of using this as an excuse to cut aid, I hope it doesn't stop people donating to the shops. Apparently two volunteers at our shop have decided to leave because of this scandal.

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