August 20, 2018 / 5:53 PM / 3 months ago

British charities spending more to tackle sexual misconduct: survey

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - British charities are spending more money on staff and training to tackle sexual misconduct since an abuse scandal swept through the aid sector, a survey has found.

Revelations earlier this year that Oxfam staff used prostitutes in Haiti snowballed into widespread reports of harassment and abuse in the aid sector, plunging it into the global spotlight.

A survey of 90 aid agencies by Bond, an umbrella group of international development organisations, found almost three in four have since increased investments in the area.

More than 90 percent hired dedicated personnel or increased the time existing staff spent working on safeguarding issues, while 73 percent spent money on additional training, it found.

“We see evidence from this survey that the sector is taking this issue seriously,” Bond’s director of programs Sarah Mistry said in a phone interview on Monday.

Those that did not increase investment said they had reviewed existing policies or were confident to have a robust system un place.

In July, Britain’s aid watchdog had accused charities of failing to tackle “horror” sexual abuse and harassment.

Mistry said policy changes and investments were encouraging but more was needed to stamp out abuses.

“Cultural change is something that needs to be worked on in the long term and reinforced by organisations challenging issues around power dynamics, gender, relationships and so on,” she said.

In August, a separate survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation found aid agencies expected reports of sexual misconduct to rise and more staff to be fired this year as they cracked down on staff offences.

An earlier poll had found more than 120 staff from 21 leading global charities were fired or lost their jobs in 2017 over sexual misconduct.

Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org

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