OK, pretty sordid, exploitative in most cases, downright illegal in a few, and not at all good for Oxfam’s ‘holier than thou’ image. Much of the same, incidentally, went on in some of the old British colonies. Sexual temptation may have been hard to resist for men in power, lonely, separated from their families, and in a hot climate. See Ronald Hyam’s Empire and Sexuality (1990). A few years ago I was sent testimony by an ex-District Officer in – I think – Nigeria which relates similar goings-on in the closing years of Britain’s colonial rule there.
But it’s probably only a small minority who are responsible, as was the case then; and it may not have greatly affected Oxfam’s overall humanitarian work. That’s surely the only thing that should determine whether or not we continue funding it, either individually or as a nation. It’s unfortunate for Oxfam that this affair should have come out at a time when sexual harassment in other quarters is so much in the news, and has been elevated to the status of almost the only type of scandal of the day; more serious, for instance, than famine, earthquakes and war. It would be sad, to say the least, if poor Africans and others were reduced to starvation again, because of a sudden outbreak of moralism or – dare I say it? – puritanism in the West. Tory and UKIP anti-foreign-aiders won’t be able to believe their hypocritical luck.
The picture below – I don’t know where I got it from – is of course a joke. (That’s in case the fake news people get hold of it.)