Hi Community,

The news about the Oxfam abuse scandal has left us rattled — and it should. Sexual violence is a big problem in the development industry, as it is in many others, as Devex has long reported. But now it’s in the spotlight more than ever before, bringing with it the opportunity for change. The problems are systemic, but there are ways of tackling them.

We wanted to make sure you had the latest news and let you know that we're working on a series of stories, digital events, and resources to highlight the problems and the potential solutions. More on this below, but if you have a tip, a story, or something you would like to see from us, please share it with [email protected]. We're listening.

Here's what happened with Oxfam:
  • Ongoing harassment: Oxfam has been under scrutiny for several months in the U.K. media, after an uptick in reported sexual harassment cases. The organization’s chief said that, in part, this reflects better and more progressive reporting systems.

  • Leaked report: Last week, the story blew open when The Times reported that an internal 2011 investigation into sexual misconduct among staff in Haiti had led to seven men leaving the organization. There are concerns that Oxfam wasn't fully transparent about the issue. Some of the men went on to work with other charities.

  • Funding threats: In response to the report, the U.K.'s aid chief demanded action from the aid community and threatened to pull funding from the charity if it failed to show "moral leadership" on the issue. Oxfam has announced a number of reforms, and its deputy chief executive has resigned.

  • Registered aid workers? The U.K. government has floated the idea of a "global register" of aid workers to ensure that those who engage in misconduct at one organization cannot move on to work at another. It has also called a summit of aid leaders later this month to address the problem.

  • The bottom line: The events that took place among a small number of Oxfam staff represent a shocking abuse of power, but it isn't the only organization dealing with this problem. Flawed recruitment and safeguarding policies across the aid industry are part of the problem. Here's what they are — and how organizations can fix them.

Here's what it means for the aid industry at large:
  • Good news: It could be a catalyst for change. As the scale of the challenge begins to emerge to increased public attention, organizations will be forced to take greater steps to tackle the issue, and victims may feel more encouraged to speak up.

  • Bad news: Some are worrying about what the scandal means for public trust in the sector, at a time when resources are ever scarcer, and scrutiny ever tougher. Aid workers have also expressed concern that the negative media attention could lead some organizations to try to obscure the problem.

  • What organizations should be doing: Build better reporting systems. Strengthen coordination among agencies. Reinforce accountability mechanisms. Ensure there is a zero-tolerance approach to abuses of power. Read on to learn more about how to make those happen.

  • At the end of the day: This is an issue of systemic inequality, and it requires collective action.

Yesterday, I sat down with reporter Molly Anders to take a look at what this means for the aid industry more broadly during a special edition of Long Story Short — our news show on #DevexTV. You can watch that here:

3 steps professionals and organizations can take:
  1. Build better infrastructure to handle allegations. Here's a digital training that explains how.

  2. Know which policies work — and which ones don't — in responding to sexual violence. Hear from the experts.

  3. Tell us what works and what doesn't by reaching out with your insight, sharing an op-ed or submitting an anonymous tip. Here's how. You can also tweet us @Devex using #AidToo.

Many thanks for your time. I hope you found this useful. Please don't hesitate to get in touch — and if you have any feedback, you can share with us directly at [email protected].

Best regards,

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