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Sexual Exploitation and Abuse
Ending sexual misconduct begins with you
Ending sexual misconduct begins with you

IOM has a policy of zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA).

Sexual exploitation is defined by the Organization as 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.  

Sexual abuse means the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions.

Examples include:

  • Sexual assault (any unwanted or forced sexual act committed without consent, including rape, sodomy, and forced oral copulation)
  • Forcing a person to engage in prostitution or pornography
  • Unwanted touching of a sexual nature
  • Making sex a condition for assistance

Zero tolerance means that active measures are being introduced to prevent SEA and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against all persons who are found to have violated the relevant IOM policies. Disciplinary actions, including summary dismissal, will be taken irrespective of grade, contract type, or seniority.

You are required to:

  • Fully understand what types of behaviour ​may be considered SEA.
  • Adopt behaviour that respects and favours ​the rights of the beneficiaries.
  • Report any allegation or suspicion of SEA or any retaliatory action related to SEA.

All persons employed by IOM must abide with all instructions issued by IOM including:

  • IN/15, Rev. 1 (Standards of Conduct)
  • IN/90 (Policy for a Respectful Working Environment);
  • IN/234 (Policy and Procedures for Preventing and Responding to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse).

IOM policy states that there is often an inherent and important power differential in the interactions between staff members and beneficiaries and declares that abusive and exploitative sexual activities with beneficiaries are absolutely prohibited. In other words, SEA occurs when people who have power exploit or abuse vulnerable populations for sexual purposes. IOM will not tolerate an atmosphere of impunity toward SEA.

In order to protect beneficiaries and vulnerable populations and to ensure the integrity of IOM’s activities, the following core principles should be followed by IOM personnel:

  1. SEA constitute acts of gross misconduct and are grounds for termination of employment.
  2. Sexual activity with children (persons under the age of 18) is prohibited.
  3. Exchange of money, employment, goods or services for sex is prohibited.
  4. Sexual relationships between IOM staff and beneficiaries are strongly discouraged and are prohibited when abuse or exploitative.
  5. Staff members must report concerns regarding SEA by fellow workers.
  6. IOM staff members, especially those in leadership positions, are obliged to create and maintain an environment that prevents and protects against SEA.

Here are SEA cases at IOM that resulted in disciplinary measures:

  • Staff member had a sexual relationship with a minor IOM beneficiary
  • Staff member inappropriately touched and threatened two beneficiaries
  • Staff member failed to cooperate with an SEA investigation withheld information from OIG investigators
  • Staff member offered beneficiaries money in exchange for sex
  • Staff member touched a beneficiary inappropriately and unnecessarily during a medical examination

You have a duty to report any breach of IOM’s rules and regulations. Staff members reporting in good faith are protected against retaliation.

Last updated: 13 November 2019
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