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Recent disclosure of sexual misconduct scandals in the aid industry prompted significant efforts to address the problem, and the reaffirmed commitment of many agencies (governmental and non-governmental) to being survivor-centered and prioritizing survivors’ choices, wishes, rights, dignity, safety, security, and confidentiality. Much thought has also gone into how this can be turned into concrete measures, for example, through enabling safe reporting, listening to survivors, providing them with support — medical, psycho-social, financial, etc. — conducting prompt and sensitive investigations, and holding perpetrators and others who fail to act accountable.

The article published in Devex by Asmita Naik (a long-standing advocate for victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers) underline the fact that despite all the commitment mentioned above, little is happening to put survivors first. She emphasizes that few organizations are prepared to confront the reality of what taking a survivor-centered approach means, which would refer to taking the necessary measures and allocate adequate resources (human and financial) for these measures to be implemented. 

Affirming that “Being survivor-centered and accountable as an organization are intrinsically linked, and therein lies the uncomfortable contradiction: Being more survivor-centered means being less organization-centered“, she proposes a way forward, by removing the conflict of interest that lies at the heart of an organization’s ability to respond.

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