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Reflection by Oxfam America President Abby

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We continue to have zero tolerance for abuse of people in any form. We stand firmly against the exploitation and abuse of women and girls.

It should not surprise anyone that the revelations of sexual misconduct in Oxfam’s Haiti office in 2011 rocked me. We have now heard of allegations of staff members in Chad using sex workers in 2006. And in response to these allegations, we learned on February 12 of the resignation of Penny Lawrence, the deputy chief executive of Oxfam Great Britain. As a leader accountable for safeguarding our staff, partners, and beneficiaries, as a woman, as a mother, and as a human being, I am appalled and dismayed. We are an organization of the highest principles and values. We serve and hold a mission that has as its center the protection of the most vulnerable in the world.

And, ashamed though I am of the behavior of these former staff, I am deeply committed to assuring that we will learn and uncover anything necessary from these events. New measures put in place help Oxfam better prevent abuse, sexual harassment, and exploitation from happening. Our response in the past clearly did not meet the standards that we have today. We could have done more including, but not limited to, sharing more information in our public communications.

Globally and at Oxfam America, we continue to have zero tolerance for abuse of people in any form and we offer our support to victims of these egregious violations of our principles, values, and what we hold dear and believe.

Oxfam’s priority is to stand fully by the survivors of such reprehensible behavior—and to ensure that such behavior is absolutely expunged from our organization. We stand firmly against the exploitation and abuse of women and girls.

I am proud to lead Oxfam America. I am proud of our staff who have, like me, felt shame and disappointment in their former colleagues but who are determined not to be discouraged.

My belief in Oxfam—Oxfam America and our entire confederation—has not wavered. I have known this organization through my work in this sector for more than 30 years. I know it to be an organization of the highest integrity. Now, from my vantage point within Oxfam, nothing has changed but my resolve that Oxfam will be the standard-bearer for the highest levels of safeguarding and for our unflagging commitment to the dignity of the people we serve.

We will work tirelessly to rebuild your trust—our incredible supporters, partners, and volunteers—who work together with us around the globe to fight the injustice of poverty. I am confident in our ability to weather this challenge together and remain deeply appreciative of your commitment to our shared vision of the future.

This blog has been updated with new information since it was published.

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  1. Pingback: Oxfam official resigns after studies of sexual misconduct by help employees in Haiti, Chad - Has2see.com - Has2see.com

  2. alumpa@oxfam.org.uk'Kambilo Musopelo

    Reassuring words and trust that the sincere appeal finds a place in the hearts of the many aggrieved by the reprehensible and regrettable revelations

    Reply
  3. dllevin99@yahoo.com'lewis levin

    before I make any further contributions you must provide evidence of the changes that you will make to prevent further abuse.

    Reply
  4. rahimo@maui.net'L. Gleason

    Unfortunately, as with so many organizations, this issue was not addressed in a timely manner. Now it is finally being revealed? That is outrageous! Your agency knew about it years before, but it takes exposure before you come clean. And those same perpetrators were not punished, nor were other non profits notified of what they had done, and they went on to find jobs with those non profits. This is egregious, irresponsible, and shows that Oxfam too is ready to sweep these things under the table to keep in good standing with the public and all contributors. It is clear that I have lost confidence in your organization, one of the few I trusted to contribute to. You are just another male dominated, let boys be boys organization, Sickening

    Reply
  5. marjac1129@gmail.com'marian jacobs

    This saddened me deeply to hear about an organization that I trusted to do good with the money I sent. Abby, I do hope that these people are no longer with the organization and I hope to regain trust in Oxfam again. It is hard to know who can be trusted anymore….

    Reply
  6. Killheffert@msn.com'Ted Killheffer

    Will Oxfam commit to turning over to law enforcement anyone suspected of violation of law? If not, I question the value of a zero tolerance policy.

    Reply
  7. dcraig48@comcast.net'Doug C

    I have been a supporter of OXFAM for several decades, including 2 years as a field worker in Yemen. OXFAM has always been one of the most reliable aid providers, and certainly one of the most effective in the field. The actions of a few misguided people in Haiti and Chad will not affect my support, and I will probably raise my monthly pledge. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  8. jeanne.lenzer@gmail.com'Jeanne Lenzer

    Oxfam remains the most outstanding organization working to not just alleviate the pain of poverty, but to change the systemic problems causing poverty. As such, Oxfam remains my number one choice as an organization I want to support.

    Reply
  9. victoranguani@gmail.com'Anguani Victor

    OXFAM mentored me and continues to do so in WaSH a great organisation to treasure he who does against ethical codes of conduct of OXFAM is actual sick and needs proper attention.

    Reply
  10. chris.hufstader@oxfam.org'Chris Hufstader

    We thank all of you for your comments, both in support of Oxfam but also the more critical ones, because we want you to know we hear you and are doing everything we can to regain your trust and support. For the latest information on the steps we are taking, you can read a statement we released early this morning: https://www.oxfamamerica.org/explore/stories/oxfam-asks-womens-rights-leaders-to-carry-out-independent-review/

    For the latest information from Oxfam, you can also keep an eye on our “Press” web page: https://www.oxfamamerica.org/press/

    Reply
  11. pablo@marsalmarsal.com.ar'Pablo Marsal

    I have received Abby Maxman’s message. Nevertheless we should all give deep thought to this OXFAM scandal. It hurts all the global non-profit community worldwide. Maybe we should organize a world register of violators of Codes of Ethics of organizations to avoid these persons can be hired by another NGO after being fired. Also we should find the legal way of being able to prosecute them under the laws of the home country of the international organization that hired them, etc. We have to find the ways to punish them harshly and to send a message that these actions will not remain unpunished.

    Reply
  12. cbotzum@outlook.com'Christina Botzum

    As a financial supporter and advocate for Oxfam I am disgusted and disappointed to hear about Oxfam’s handling of these abuses. I have found myself at a loss in trying to explain it to the people I have encouraged to support Oxfam. I cannot, in good conscience, continue to support the organization until the full truth is made publicly available. I appreciate what little information has been made available, but expect far more.

    Reply

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