More than 70% of women have experienced gender-based violence in crisis and emergency settings. Women and young girls are purposely targeted and exploited for gratification and profit. Sex abuse scandals, rape and abduction are all very common accounts that echo throughout refugee camps across the world. Recent reports have found that sexual assault and exploitation are largely committed against women and girls which is mainly carried out by men. Sexual acts in exchange for desperately needed aid supplies is an abuse of power and tends to happen but goes unreported.
West Africa, just one example has fallen victim to ill treatment by aid agencies. In 2002 investigative reports (by Save the Children, UNHCR, U.N. Refugee Agency) revealed the following:
1- Individuals, mainly women had been exploited by humanitarian aid workers demanding sex from girls under the age of 18 for cooking essentials such as oil and bulgur wheat
2- In 2006 (Haiti, Sudan and the Ivory Coast) found that aid workers from various organisations asked children to conduct sexual activities on each other whilst this was filmed in exchange for basic food rations and money
3- Reports in 2014 found peacekeepers who travelled to disaster and emergency zones largely from the French military engaged in sexual abuse of children as young as 8 in exchange for food and money
4- Peace keepers also engaged in sexual relations with women, many women would fall pregnant, a nickname for the babies born was ‘peacekeeper babies’
Forgotten Women has a strict ethical code of conduct which has zero tolerance to sexual exploitation of the weak and vulnerable. We are here to serve those in need and in the same breath protect those who we serve. To honour our safe aid policy we only allow women on the front line to deliver aid (women to women contact).
The #MeToo movement (defined as a social movement against sexual violence and sexual assault), has given a platform for women to speak out and has also sent a subconscious message of fear amongst the humanitarian sector.
Sex for aid and sexual exploitation should not and will not be tolerated. Part of our safe aid delivery is to provide loving arms of comfort and emotional support these beautiful women long for. Sunny Bahia, Forgotten Women
Our objective is to offer women the opportunity to develop their independence and protect their dignity. Every woman deserves the right to live a safe and happy life, with your support we can make that a reality.