After Oxfam Haiti Sexual Misconduct Scandal, Actress Minnie Driver Withdraws Support for the Charity
British actress Minnie Driver has left her role as a celebrity ambassador for Oxfam, after a leaked internal report sunk the charity in a sexual misconduct scandal.
“All I can tell you about this awful revelation about Oxfam is that I am devastated,” Driver tweeted on Tuesday, Feb. 13. “Devastated for the women who were used by people sent there to help them, devastated by the response of an organization that I have been raising awareness for since I was 9 years old.”
In 2011, Oxfam said its country director in Haiti, Roland Van Hauwermeiren, resigned because an internal investigation was launched into the misconduct of a “small number” of its workers in Haiti and he felt he should take “managerial responsibility,” the Independent reported at the time.
But The Times recently reported that it obtainedana internal confidential 2011 report on the “misconduct” that alleged some staffers, including Hauwermeiren and another two in management, were hiring prostitutes in the country devastated by a 2010 earthquake. They acted with a “culture of impunity” the report stated.
The paper talked to several “Oxfam insiders” who said some senior staffers were holding parties at Oxfam-rented guest house with as many as five prostitutes at a time. Three sources were concerned that some of the girls were only 14-16 years old.
Oxfam told the paper the allegations of underaged prostitutes were ”not proven.”
But the sources said the internal investigation was watered down to only uncover enough to sack the people implicated.
In addition, Hauwermeiren, 68, admitted to having prostitutes brought to a villa in Haiti rented for him by Oxfam, the internal report stated.
In the end, Hauwermeiren and the two staffers from management were allowed to resign. Four others were fired. Even though prostitution is illegal in Haiti, none of their conduct was reported to Haitian authorities because Oxfam assumed no action would be taken anyway in the decimated country.
The charity withheld specifics of the allegations from public to avoid scrutiny, based on what its chief executive, Mark Goldring, told BBC.
“I don’t think it was in anyone’s best interest to be describing the details of the behaviour in a way that was actually going to draw extreme attention to it when what we wanted to do was get on and deliver an aid programme,” he said.