Mission and Goals
Report the Abuse (RTA) began operating on 19 August 2015, and one of its first acts was to open up a public, confidential, non-judgemental, and anonymous platform where humanitarian aid workers could express their experiences and knowledge about sexual violence incidents within the humanitarian community.
Donor agencies have played an essential role in addressing various problems plaguing the humanitarian community – fraud, corruption, concerns about the funding of terrorism, and, most recently, addressing the sexual exploitation and abuse of the population that humanitarian organisations are meant to aid. By asking questions of those they fund, donor agencies have brought about significant changes to the policies and procedures implemented by humanitarian organisations, contributing to the professionalism and transparency of humanitarian operations.
One of the questions frequently asked to Report the Abuse (RTA), and within the broader humanitarian community, is how we report and respond to incidents of sexual violence – as survivors1. Who do we report to when something goes wrong? What are our options? What do we do if we are being sexually harassed? How do we prove something has happened? Where can we go for help?
The need for this Guidance Note came out of many discussions around how we speak about sexual violence – within humanitarian organisations, across them, and at the global level – following the attack on Terrain Hotel in July 2016. While this was not the first time humanitarian aid workers have been sexually attacked on a large scale, it was unique as the brave survivors talked about their experiences publically.
There are many reasons humanitarian aid workers may become exposed to HIV and other diseases spread through bodily fluids, and sexual violence is just one of those reasons. When this does occur though, it is important to know what options might be available to survivors, as well as what humanitarian organisations can do to appropriately respond.
Duty of care is being increasingly discussed within the humanitarian community, and becoming an important area within risk management practice for organisation’s wishing to better address health, safety, and security issues for their staff. This is a welcomed move, with humanitarian action feeling progressively dangerous, and cases like Steve Dennis v. NRC underscoring the need to do better as a community.
Sexual violence – in and out of conflict settings – is a global phenomena. Current data suggests that 1 in 3 women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. These survivors include humanitarian aid workers, who are experiencing sexual violence in the course of their work.
Sexual violence in the humanitarian context is not an emergent issue, but for the first time ever survivors are feeling more empowered to speak and their voices are being recognised.
Report the Abuse (RTA), the first global NGO to solely address sexual violence against humanitarian aid workers, has created the first good practices tool to assist humanitarian organisations in their efforts to improve how they address this problem.