Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sexual abuse by aid workers

Here’s the least pleasant topic I’ve run across in my researches on natural disasters. To think that in some terrible natural disasters, aid workers would come in and rape children who had just lost parents and home and access to food was at first unthinkable to me. But it happens, as several reports have revealed in the past fifteen years, and so we had all better think about it.

To me, this is in the same general category as looting but roughly a million times worse. And if you’ve followed this blog or read my novels, you know I’m death on looting. Scumbags, those natural disaster looters. They’ve existed since written records of disasters, too, so don’t believe it’s some new sign of a worse world. It happened in the Tri-State Tornado and I’d bet good money that it happened in Pompeii.

But this? This is so much worse. I can’t come up with a good enough insult name for the people who do it. Imagine: you're a child. Natural disaster has struck. Your home is gone. Your parents are missing and possibly dead. An aid worker comes in and seems as if he might be there to help, to provide some comfort or relief. And then comes the horror: the price of the bag of rice or the hour of listening is sex. Or, the aid worker simply rapes a child or woman once he has her alone. (I’ve seen no cases reported of adult males being raped or females being perpetrators, but there may be such incidents.)

One wonders what kind of monster could do this. Is this why they sign on to be aid workers in the first place, as a form of...what, rape tourism?  (Shudder.)

Aid organizations must educate their workers on this, test those people for signs of sociopathy, look into their criminal backgrounds, and get the information out to the public that any incident of abuse needs to be reported. And the punishment, after investigation, needs to be swift and certain. (I'm thinking something involving a blowtorch...but then, that's why they don't let me be a judge.)

What can you do about this? I can only think of two things: First, before donating money to any disaster relief agency, ask, “Do you background check your paid and volunteer work forces? How do you guarantee they won’t be molesting the children under their care?” And, of course, educate your own children. If anyone touches them inappropriately, in any situation, including after a tornado or earthquake or hurricane, when their world is in chaos, they should scream, bite, kick, run, and tell every adult they encounter ASAP.

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