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Best Practice Guide - Inter-Agency Community-Based - Complaint Mechanisms - Protection against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse



What to expect in an inter-agency PSEA-CBCM

This Guide gives instructions on how to set up and run an inter-agency community-based complaint mechanism to handle reports of sexual abuse and exploitation by humanitarian aid workers. A Community-Based Complaint Mechanism (CBCM) is a system rooted in community input so that the structure is both culturally and gender-sensitive, maximizing its safety and effectiveness. The primary concern of the mechanism is to aid known and potential SEA survivors, facilitate SEA reporting and allegation referrals, and to fulfill a prevention function through training and awareness-raising. The inter-agency aspect entails that the mechanism can receive complaints against actors from multiple organizations, and that the complaints will be referred to the proper unit within each organization for follow-up. Altogether, the CBCM is a relevant and efficient means of comprehensively responding to SEA in an emergency response operation.

When implemented properly, a PSEA-CBCM will increase awareness of SEA in both the affected population and humanitarian staff, including how to report SEA incidents. This means that a well-run CBCM may actually increase the number of reported SEA incidents in the target area. In fact, reports should increase. Increasing complaints after the inception of a CBCM does not necessarily mean an increasing SEA problem. SEA is already a problem.
Rather, increased complaints can indicate community acceptance of the mechanism, and its use facilitates the streamlined referral of complaints to agencies’ investigative units so that appropriate action can be taken on staff misconduct. Conversely, the absence of SEA reports should not be interpreted as an absence of SEA. Given current reports of SEA incidents across the globe, lack of reports may be a warning that there are inadequate mechanisms on site that the affected population can safely access.