An Oxfam training document recently suggested that “privileged white women” were supporting the ‘root causes of sexual violence’ for wanting assailants imprisoned because it disproportionately affects minorities.
Oxfam, which has been mired in controversies over a host of sex scandals, including claims that employees used underage prostitutes in Haiti, compiled a PowerPoint presentation through its LGBT network that claimed mainstream feminism supports ‘the root causes of sexual violence’ by presenting white women as ‘victims’ and which in turn justifies the excessive punishment for ‘black and other marginalised people’.
The slide shows a sobbing woman, accompanied by a message that says mainstream feminism centres on privileged white women as victims and demands that ‘bad men’ be fired or imprisoned. It says that fighting against sexual assault legitimises criminal punishment, which harms black and other marginalised people.
The Oxfam training manual draws inspiration from the book Me Not You: The Trouble with Mainstream Feminism, authored by Alison Phipps, a professor of gender studies at Sussex University. Phipps describes herself as a political sociologist ‘focusing on mainstream Western feminism, especially movements around sexual violence’. The book concludes that mainstream feminism is supporting, not undoing, the root causes of sexual violence.
Summarising the main theme of the book, the Oxfam presentation says that white feminists need to ask themselves whether they are causing harm when they fight against sexual violence.
According to Naomi Cunningham, a discrimination and employment law barrister, the message from the contentious PowerPoint presentation seemed to allege that woman who report a rape or sexual assault case to police are considered as hateful “white feminist”. This is a classic case where victims are blamed and tried to silenced for the atrocities committed upon them, she said.
She slammed the document that indirectly tried to suggest a woman stoically endure sexual assaults and rapes committed on them and refrain from reporting them to police. “I think any woman could make an arguable case that this has created or contributed to an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment, which is how the Equality Act defines harassment,” she added.
Charges of sexual exploitation against Oxfam staff
It is noteworthy to mention that while the Oxfam training manual hold victims responsible for the sexual assaults committed on them, in 2018, Oxfam was at the centre of a raging turmoil after its staff members in Haiti were accused of using underage prostitutes. It was reported that the Haiti Oxfam chief solicited prostitutes in a villa which was paid and provided for by Oxfam, exposing the dark underbelly of international charity organizations and NGOs in general.
This was not an isolated case. A year later, similar allegations of sexual exploitation were levelled against the Oxfam employees in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Two employees were suspended as a part of an “external investigation” into the matter.
However, according to The Times, whistleblowers were “frustrated at the length of time taken to complete the investigation”. Former and current staff members of Oxfam made allegations of sexual exploitation, bullying, fraud, and nepotism against 11 people in a letter sent to the Oxfam leadership.
After Oxfam’s Haiti sexual exploitation scandal came to light in 2018, the charity promised to bring reforms and changes, but the reemergence of allegations revealed that changes if made, were not sufficient. The UK Charity Commission concluded that Oxfam had a “culture of poor behaviour” and was issued with a warning over its “mismanagement”. In the wake of this scandal, thousands of people cancelled their regular donations to Oxfam, causing Oxfam to make cuts worth 16 million British pounds.
Oxfam India and its deference to the Congress party
It is to be noted that the CEO of Oxfam India, Amitabh Behar, wrote a fawning article on the Congress party. In the article, Behar offers numerous sermons to the Congress party and eulogizes its idea of India. Furthermore, a Board Member of Oxfam India was involved in the drafting of the deeply dangerous and anti-Hindu Communal Violence Bill.