December 24, 2018 / 12:38 PM / in 2 months

Save the Children UK chief quits after complaints

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The chairman of Save the Children UK has resigned after staff complaints he was not serious about tackling sexual harassment, the charity said, in the latest blow to the scandal-hit sector.

Peter Bennett-Jones will leave next month after investigators upheld complaints about remarks he made during a review into workplace culture at the charity, which has been criticized for its handling of sexual misconduct reports.

An independent investigation found he had made remarks that “could have been perceived as being at odds with the organization’s response to a review of its working culture”, the charity said in a statement on Saturday.

The aid world has seen a number of high-profile departures since allegations earlier this year that Oxfam staff used sex workers in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake kicked off a series of sexual misconduct scandals.

Mark Goldring has said he will step down as Oxfam’s chief executive at the end of this year.

Last week the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said it had sacked Ali Khamis, a British aid worker, for having sexual relations with a woman he employed as a domestic worker in Uganda.

UNHCR spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly said in emailed comments the group found no evidence that Khamis had sexually exploited or abused the woman, but that he had “failed to uphold the standards expected of an international civil servant”.

Save The Children ordered an independent review of its workplace culture earlier this year after it was criticized for its handling of complaints against former chief executive Justin Forsyth and ex-policy chief Brendan Cox between 2012 and 2015.

The panel found most staff had not suffered inappropriate conduct while working at the charity, but 28 percent reported in a staff survey that they had experienced either discrimination or harassment within the last three years.

Many of the issues related to being ignored or belittled, with a small number saying they had suffered gender-based harassment and unwanted sexual remarks and innuendo.

An exclusive survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in February found more than 120 staff from leading global charities were fired or lost their jobs in 2017 over sexual misconduct.

The United Nations has been rocked by dozens of cases since early 2017 as the #MeToo campaign has emboldened women to speak out against their abusers.

In August, an independent oversight body said U.N. agencies must improve ways for staff to report harassment, retaliation and other forms of misconduct and safeguard whistle-blowers who are prepared to reveal cases of abuse.

Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking and slavery, property rights, social innovation, resilience and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories

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