[Brussels, 12 February 2018] We strongly condemn recent revelations around the involvement of Oxfam staff with the exploitation and abuse of women in Haiti and Chad. The European Women’s Lobby is clear that prostitution is a system of violence and abuse against women, and it is therefore always unacceptable for men in positions of power to exploit and abuse women in prostitution.
These cases of sexual exploitation and abuse are yet further evidence of the pervasive and systemic nature of violence for many women and girls all over the world.
On 14 February 2018, a massive mobilisation of women against discrimination and exploitation is taking place all over the world as part of the annual One Billion Rising Campaign.
We are at an historic turning point as the outpouring of testimony flowing from the #metoo movement has demonstrated, women’s voices are too many and too loud to ignore. The EWL, as the largest women’s rights network in Europe, calls on all NGOs, international and EU institutions and governments to ensure that:
- Codes of conduct and regular training to eliminate discrimination and exploitation of women are made compulsory for all staff at all levels and that their implementation is being closely monitored.
- Prostitution is recognised as a form of violence against women. Codes of conduct should include zero tolerance towards involvement in prostitution and sexual exploitation by any staff or representatives.
- Complaints are followed up and there are clear consequences for perpetrators and access to justice and support for victims.
- Campaigns are systematically and periodically implemented to stamp out sexist behaviour and sexist culture among the staff members.
- Specific training is provided for female only staff in order to create safe spaces for reporting and where vulnerabilities of women of minority groups can be addressed.
- Systematic consultation with women’s organisations providing support to women and girls is organised.
- All organisations ‘Walk the talk’ on values, accountability and integrity.
- Specialised trainings are in place to build gender competence and gender analysis in leaders and staff members, so that gender equality and women rights are systematically mainstreamed in all the work.
- Invisible power is studied and structural change is pushed for, challenging gendered power dynamics.