Advice for NGOs on protecting aid workers against sexual violence

Gavin Kelleher Associate Security Consultant (Humanitarian Lead) Healix International

Gavin Kelleher

Associate Security Consultant (Humanitarian Lead)

86% of aid workers know a colleague who has experienced sexual violence

According to a ‘Report the Abuse’ survey, 86% of aid workers know a colleague who has experienced sexual violence associated with their work. In response to this damning data, our security experts have published new guidance for NGOs. This new advisory outlines the risks and steps organisations can take to keep aid workers safe.

Sexual violence in humanitarian settings is rarely reported as a security incident, which makes it difficult to understand the scale of the issue in the sector. However from the data that is available, we can see that in every context the threat is posed by multiple actors. Assaults are perpetrated by beneficiaries, local community members, drivers, soldiers, militants and even other aid workers. Understanding the risks is the first step to protecting field workers.

This new advisory outlines ways to reduce the risk of sexual violence by preparing employees ahead of deployment. Practical solutions, such as the buddy system and ensuring aid workers know who the threat actors are in a given environment, help individuals mitigate the risks. The advice also offers guidance on incorporating the risk of sexual violence into emergency response plans and the importance of recovery as part of an organisation’s duty of care to field workers.

We are committed to preparing, enabling and assisting humanitarian and development organisations to operate in the most insecure environments globally. Aid workers are among the most vulnerable employees of any organisation we look after, which is why this guidance is so important.

While the impacts of sexual violence are severe around the world, the impacts can be worse in fragile post-disaster or post-conflict states where medical facilities are often sub-par, criminal justice systems weak and psychosocial support and counselling unavailable.

Read the full advisory for a deeper insight into how you can structure a comprehensive risk mitigation strategy against sexual violence.

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