CARE International works around the globe to save lives, defeat poverty and achieve social justice. Because of our mission and our focus on women and girls, we are deeply committed to building a world where violence, harassment and abuse against anyone is not tolerated.
Our ability to fulfil our relief and development mission is wholly reliant on the high standards of integrity and conduct of our staff working at all levels in the organization, from those in head offices to those in the communities we serve.
In 2018, CARE had more than 9,000 staff in more than 90 countries. During the year CARE received 47 complaints of sexual misconduct allegedly committed by CARE staff or related personnel (i.e. partner staff, consultants, and contractors). Eighteen of these complaints were substantiated. This is higher than the number of reports made in 2017 (total of 28), which is an indication that while we know there is still more to be done to prevent sexual misconduct, our strengthened reporting systems and safeguarding mechanisms are contributing to a speak-up culture of confidence and trust.
We collected figures in two separate categories: (1) sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse of programme participants and community members and (2) sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse within the organisation.
(1) 18 of the 47 complaints were about sexual misconduct towards programme participants and community members. Following investigation, eight were substantiated resulting in seven staff dismissals and one warning.
(2) 29 of the 47 complaints were of sexual misconduct towards other CARE staff. Following investigation, 10 were substantiated resulting in eight dismissals, one warning, and one coincided with end of contract.
5 of the 47 complaints remain as open cases while the investigations proceed.
Everyone in the communities where CARE works deserves a life free from sexual harassment, exploitation, and abuse. Our global policy on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Child Protection explicitly outlines unacceptable behavior, and what we will do to investigate allegations, support people who have experienced sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse, and discipline perpetrators, including referring them to the relevant authorities. CARE also has mechanisms in place to report abuse or harassment of any kind, whether through a hotline (the CARELine) for anonymous complaints or via management, peer and HR structures.
Throughout 2018, CARE has made substantial improvements in its safeguarding work and we are committed to building on this. We continue to encourage our programme participants, staff and anyone else to raise concerns and complaints of sexual misconduct. We are raising awareness in communities where we work and with our programme participants about what the expected behaviour is of our staff as well as how to report a complaint to us. We also have dedicated Focal Points, who act as trusted local advisors, trainers and monitors, identified in each CARE country office as part of this effort.
We have made our recruitment processes more rigorous, particularly in the reference process, and are training our staff in our codes of conduct and our values and expected behaviours. We are striving to build a culture of confidence in reporting a complaint. We know we are fallible, and we will continue to learn and evolve as we endeavor to ensure that any person involved in CARE’s work is treated with respect and dignity.