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Victims of charity abuse fear reporting it, MPs hear

AID workers’ abuse victims do not speak out through fear of losing the meagre food and money provided by their abuser, independent child development consultant Corinna Csaky told MPs today.

Survivors of abuse and their communities “regarded this abuse as an inevitable fact of life,” she told the international development committee.

Ms Csaky said some victims did not speak out to avoid the “stigma,” with some girls in South Sudan afraid to speak out “because they may be forced to marry their abuser,” and some were “scared they might even be killed.”

The committee is investigating the sexual abuse of children by men working in the aid and charity sectors following revelations Oxfam workers in Haiti took prostitutes to “sex parties” in the aftermath of the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake.

Ms Csaky recounted a 2008 investigation into the abuse of children by humanitarian staff and peacekeepers she carried out while working for Save the Children.

She told MPs that the “resounding message” she received was that “most cases of abuse are not reported.”

She said a teenage girl in the Ivory Coast told her: “We have never heard of anyone reporting the cases of abuses.”

But Ms Csaky said aid sector safeguarding was “mainly responsive,” so victims are not helped.

She added that victims and survivors were wary of the “real risks” of reporting abuse, especially “losing the food and money earned through transactional sex.”

Ms Csaky also said one girl in South Sudan said that a father would “try to persuade the man to take the girl as a bride … he would not ask the girl whether she wants this, so really the girl gets no advantage from telling anyone about the abuse.”

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