Mary Wakefield Mary Wakefield

The dark side of charity

One of the oddest things about the Oxfam outrage is how little we seem to care

One of the oddest things about the Oxfam sex scandal is how little we all seem to care. Even now, the talking heads on TV find it hard to summon much outrage. On Facebook and on Twitter, the Presidents Club exposé caused a far greater fuss. Much was made of the way the Club’s entitled fat cats abused their power over hostesses. But the imbalance of power between a starving child and an aid worker with access to food and cash is immeasurably greater. And what of a charity’s duty of care?

I’ve been half hopeful that progressive millennials might adopt the aid world fiasco as a cause. No generation in history has been more alive to the problem of privilege and the rights of the vulnerable. So where are the woke? Are they sharing the Oxfam story? Are they making placards? Not as far as I can see.

A fortnight ago I wrote in this magazine wondering why the #MeToo movement hasn’t held the UN to account for the terrible crimes committed by peacekeepers against young girls in Africa and Haiti. These terrible crimes aren’t historical or even rare. Last year the UN Secretary General confessed that there had been 145 incidents involving 311 victims in 2016. This, he said, was just the tip of the iceberg. He said it sadly, as if his hands were tied.

The UN wrote a letter to The Spectator insisting that they’ve ‘made good progress in confronting sexual exploitation and abuse’, and that they publish details of allegations and ‘maintain active follow-up with the concerned member states to ensure justice and punishment for criminal conduct’. All very assiduous-sounding. Andrew MacLeod in the Independent last week revealed that the UN’s own data on its own website shows that not one perpetrator has ever been reported back to police forces for prosecution.

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