• Saturday, 17 August 2019

Righting a wrong: UN Fund helps thousands of sex abuse survivors rebuild their lives


NEW YORK: Over the years, in my travels, I have been haunted by many encounters with women and girls, men and boys scarred by sexual violence and further stigmatized sometimes by their own communities, said the UN's chief of management, Jan Beagle, as she opened the meeting.

I have also been inspired by the courage and resilience with which those affected set about rebuilding their lives, she added.

The United Nations has a unique responsibility to set a global standard for preventing, responding to and eradicating this abuse, and addressing its impact, she stressed.

In the first quarter of 2019, according to latest figures released on Thursday, the United Nations recorded a total of 37 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) against UN staffers, including civilian and uniformed personnel from peacekeeping operations, agencies, funds and programmes. So far, most of these allegations remain under investigation.

Sexual abuse in UN terms is defined as the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force, or under unequal or coercive conditions. Sexual exploitation is any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another.

A fund to rebuild dignity

The Trust Fund in Support of Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Fund is one of the many initiatives set up by the United Nations over recent years to address the scourge internally. The purpose of the Fund is to finance assistance for survivors and children born of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel.

Since 2016, the $2 million pledged to the Fund has enabled the implementation of several empowerment and income-generating projects.

So far, most of the funds were collected through contributions from 19 different Member States, but not exclusively close to $400,000 came from payments withheld from personnel, against whom sexual exploitation and abuse allegations have been substantiated.

There are currently six active projects

- Two in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have provided livelihood support and helped strengthen community-based complaint networks.

- Two in the Central African Republic (CAR) will be providing victims with legal support and assistance for the next two years.

- One in Liberia.

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Righting a wrong: UN Fund helps thousands of sex abuse survivors rebuild their lives

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