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Sexual exploitation Special Report and response published

13 March 2020

Chair of the International Development Committee, Sarah Champion MP, has written to the Secretary of State for International Development, Rt Hon Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, seeking further detail on DFID's ongoing commitment to tackling sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment in the aid sector.

The letter follows the Secretary of State predecessor's response to the International Development Committee's follow-up report on Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment in the Aid Sector.

The correspondence comes shortly after the Charity Commission's report on Save the Children that found there were “serious failures” in its handling of allegations of sexual harassment against senior managers. The report served as a reminder of the impact covering up allegations has on the victims, donors and society's trust of the aid sector.

Key information being sought from the Secretary of State includes:

  • How the £10m Resource and Support Hub will make a difference to aid practitioners on the ground and who will be responsible for providing the professional services it signposts towards;
  • In light of DFID informing the Committee it does not plan to monitor in detail the NGO sector's use of safeguarding guidance it has funded, how DFID will track whether the guidance is leading to any improvements in safeguarding;
  • As the Department rejects calls for an aid ombudsperson, has DFID considered options for something less formal, such as an independent panel that victims and survivors can turn to when self-regulation fails, or sought expertise from colleagues across Government working on the new Victims' Strategy.

Chair's comments

Chair of the International Development Committee, Sarah Champion MP said:

“The Committee is committed to supporting the Government in its efforts to clean up the aid sector following a turbulent few years of horrific allegations in sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. The committee called on the Government to properly monitor how safeguarding resources are being directed to tackling this problem, and for the Government to offer greater clarity on what steps are being taken to ensure victims' rights are front and centre. We were disappointed with the Government's most recent response on this.

“There are reassuring signals coming from within aid organisations that efforts are being taken to boost safeguarding and develop proper complaints procedures in light of damning reports. The Government must support that work, but it is crucial victims and survivors also have someone independent to turn to when internal procedures fail them.

“Our aid sector is one of the most envied in the world, we are the first country to properly be spending 0.7% of GDP on foreign aid and it is a vital soft power tool. We must maintain the strongest possible standards, treat the vulnerable with respect and reassure the British public that aid organisations are deserving of their trust and support.”

A copy of the correspondence is available here.

Further information

Image: PA