I don’t normally read the South China Morning Post, but I came across an actual printed copy so I glanced through it, and what a delight it continues to be.
The Oxfam sex scandal has highlighted sexual abuse and exploitation by staff at the British-based charity in Haiti, after an earthquake ravaged the country in 2010. It also exposes the arrogant culture and lack of accountability in the aid sector.
The reason the sector is so vulnerable to such allegations is that it is too often consecrated. Oxfam uses “ending poverty” as slogan to rally for funding and support. As a charity, it is often seen as a representation of the “good” and “sacred”. It was not expected to do harm to society. This explains why it has fallen so far from grace recently.
Such an incident reveals not only that aid workers have been sexually abusive in local fields, but that they are using their position to exploit the most vulnerable.
Believe it or not, this is not an isolated incident.
I was expecting some revelation here. There is nothing.
When aid workers from the developed world are sent into the developing world, this possibly breeds a sense of exceptionalism. Coming from the “better” outside world, as well as under the aim of “saving the world”, aid workers are inclined to do things differently than they otherwise would do back home.
Well, that’s hardly a revelation. I am sure many people behave differently when away from home.
Some even believe that they are godlike saviours for the locals, reinforcing the image of white fantasies with the mission of civilising the global south. They are left to their own devices to operate freely in such yet-to-be-liberated spaces. Some even perceive themselves as above the local norms and laws.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.
Amid such a power hierarchy, incidents such as these are probably only the tip of the iceberg.
Still, a few black sheep do not justify cutting off funding to Oxfam and the entire sector. Cutting off funding will not help curb sexual exploitation by workers on the ground, but mostly affect the vulnerable populations who require help.
This under-supervised industry requires a structural overhaul. It is also important to realise the overhaul shall not be based on an event, but be a long-term process of constant evaluations.
The way forward is not only to improve the transparency of the organisation and sector, but for the management in these organisations to articulate new and renewed commitments, to their process, the core vision and values.
Neville Lai, Ho Man Tin
Why does the SCMP print letters from people who have no particular insight into a subject? What’s the point?
And then there was this:
…and even more visitors could be among the 40,000-strong crowd each day this weekend (April 6-8) as the Cathay Pacific/HSBC-sponsored showpiece is sandwiched between Easter and Cheng Ming Festival when many Hongkongers tend to travel abroad.
The Rugby Sevens are after Ching Ming (which is on Thursday). So, not sandwiched at all. Do carry on.
[..] Tickets sold out for the 13th year in a row despite initial fears over the event’s proximity to major public holidays.
“We had a few concerns over the Easter break [March 30 to April 1] and Cheng Ming Festival [also known as Tomb Sweeping Festival, April 2],” said McRobbie after the unveiling of an enormous “floating” rugby ball in Victoria Harbour. “But it has not been as negative as we thought it would be at one point.
That’s Thursday 5th April, by the way. And it’s normally called Ching Ming.
Then there was this totally baffling headline:
|EFFORTS TO REACH|
|DEAL WITH HOLY|
|SEE STILL ON|
That’s just a random jumble of words (if you need a clue, “Holy See” means the Vatican).
In the online version they abandoned all efforts to write a snappy headline and went with the extremely verbose "Controversial bishops deal could still be on track after Beijing signals it hopes for progress in Vatican talks" which even I can understand.