The UK Government’s International Development Committee has announced that it is launching a re-examination into the progress that has been made to tackle sexual abuse and exploitation within the aid sector.
The examination’s focus is on aid recipients who become victims and survivors of sexual abuse within the sector. The International Development Committee will look at such topics as the ability of victims to access justice and their ability to rebuild their lives as well as looking at the steps needed to change the culture within the aid sector so that abuse can be prevented in the first place.
The US State Department has also recently released a “Trafficking In Persons” report. Part of this report is about accountability for UN peacekeepers. The report highlights that countries send troops on peacekeeping missions but those peacekeepers often have no accountability back home for any wrongdoing done while on peacekeeping missions.
When refugees are more concerned about their safety and survival, they do not have the resources to seek justice when they have been violated.
If the International Development Committee wants to really tackle this issue, they need to speak to victims and not just those who are providing aid.
In the example of UN peacekeepers or foreign aid workers, one thing that would go a long way to addressing the issue would be to remove jurisdictional boundaries so that a survivor can have their abuser prosecuted in any country around the world. For instance, if the survivor is in Country A and is abused by a peacekeeper from Country B while they are in Country A, then the survivor should be able to have their abuser prosecuted in Country A, Country B or in any other country.
It is also unreasonable to expect that a refugee who is struggling to feed, clothe and house themselves would be able to obtain a form, fill it out and post it back in order to report their abuse. In order for refugees to be able to access justice, they need to be able to report abuse from within the refugee camp.