Asia: The true characters of “HR defenders” revealed

Donor Funds used to suppress justice for victims of sexual abuse by the HR Head of a Regional NGO


by Our Special Correspondent 

(October 18, 2017, Beijing, Sri Lanka Guardian) In this issue, we expose how the head of a regional NGO misused donor funds and other resources to deny justice for one victim of sexual abuse.

The case as explained by the victim

This particular lady first came to this regional NGO as a participant for a regional meeting organized by this office. When she was leaving the HR Head obtained her signature for documents which were necessary to apply for a job at his office. She neither applied nor requested such an opportunity. She never submitted a curriculum vitae (CV). Later the HR Head successfully got her visa from the immigration authority and requested her to join the organization. At that time, the victim’s father was suffering from a terminal illness. Due to her family’s financial difficulties, she accepted the offer.

But after arriving the country where the NGO is situated, the HR Head brought the new recruit to his house stating that he is providing free accommodation so she can send her entire salary home. However, within several days he was able to use her sexually.

He used his home, paid for by the office to keep her. Official funds were used to recruit her for the purpose of sexually abusing her. Office resources were used to keep her while abusing her. Entirety of the case would establish the fact that it was against her consent. It was a result of a massive misuse of funds.

Series of complaints by the victim

Within, several months the victim realized the reality of the situation she was caught up in. She started to complain against what happened to her all the authorities inside the office and the outside.

Complaint to the oldest staff member (former head of this organization)

The courageous victim first approached the former head of the organization who is still the staff member. He is the oldest staff member in the office, XX years old at the time of writing and still engaged in the office as a full staff member after he created a special post so that he could continue getting all the financial benefits from the donor provided resources. We will refer him as the Former Head.

The victim approached him due to several reasons.

  1. Thinking that he is a professional
  2. Believing that he will protect the victim’s confidentiality.
  3. Thinking that he will stand for justice
  4. On the trust that, he will understand concept of justice and will assist the victim of sexual harassment.
  5. Hoping that he is having certain authority in the office affairs to assist the victim with justice.
  6. Finally thinking that he will understand the pain of the victim girls as a father of a girl child.

However, the response the victim suffered was much pathetic and painful. First, the Former Head carefully listened to the victim’s entire story. She cried continuously as she narrated every detail.

How she was abused: how the perpetrator used his official authority to abuse her; cheated her pretending that his marriage was already broken down; promising job stability and uninterrupted continuation of the job; intimating that every facility was provided by him. From the inception, the incident of abuse was hidden using his authority to preventing her from revealing it to other staff members.

Throughout the story, the Former Head behaved before the victim that he is standing for justice. Like he is ready to provide justice with all his capacities. Comforting her and pretending that she would get justice and relief.

How the Former Head suppressed justice

The Former Head then approached the HR Head the suspected responsible person for all these abuses. They closed the glass doors of the HR Head’s office and had hourly long, closed-door discussion. It went on for several days.

Several days later the Former Head arrived the office with a response against the victim’s complaint.

He informed the HR Head that they were going to claim that the victim girl is suffering from a psychological sickness. This shameless story was created to simply assassinate the character of the victim. They knew very well that the truthfulness of content of the complaint and the veracity of the complaint could not be challenged at all.

The Former Head and the HR Head prepared for the next attack against the victim stating that she is having a habitual practice of complaining against men on sexual abuses. His actual intention was simply creating the story that she is having inappropriate behaviors. But none of the staff member believed this story.

The Former Head and HR Head created these baseless and shameless accusations against the victim while she was still serving in the same office. She had enormous courage to face all these baseless allegations.

Complaint to the senior most European staff member

The victim girl made her second complaint to the senior most female staff member in the office. By the time she was only a part time staff member (herein after mentioned as the European Staff Member) and paid only a small allowance. She had no human rights background, by way of training or experiences. The victim decided to make her complaint to her considering several reasons.

The European Staff Member was one of the few female staff members in this office. Next, she was born in the West. The victim believed her that as she grew up in the West she would have Western human rights values. She trusted that she will get justice definitely or at least a helping hand in her struggle to get justice. The victim respected the values of the democratically developed counties, where gender equality is highly respected.

This European Staff Member listened to her entire story. Then she left the place giving her promise that she would fight to the end to get justice to the victim. She further testified that she cannot allow these corrupt people to use donor funds to abuse their own employees.

How the European Staff Member Justice to the victim

The victim waited for the helping hand from the European Staff Member. Then she observed that this western lady was avoiding her. Though the victim tried to talk to her she was ignored continuously.

Finally, she was surprised by what was going on.

Within a few weeks, the Female staff member was appointed as a full time staff member by the HR Head. She was given following facilities.

  1. She was afforded a salary of US $ 3,800. It was equivalent to the basic salary of the HR Head’s.
  2. She was given special facility of not having to work from the office.
  3. Considering she is working from the home, special allowances were given for her utilities and funds to purchase other equipment purchasing money. None of these things were included in the list of properties of the office by the administration.
  4. Further, she was allowed some other payments for travelling as she requested.

Apart from these payments, according to the reliable sources,  she was allowed,

  1. Every year several foreign trips in the names of field visits.
  2. Airfare and hotels lodgings,
  3. foods and beverages,
  4. local travelling.

All were paid by the office.

This European Staff Member used all these facilities. The minor staff members of the administration of the office could not ever question the reasons for the allocations of such huge funds out of the project funds granted by the donors. 

Complaining to the Psychologist in the office

The victim’s third attempt was to make a complaint to the psychologist working in the office. She believed him for several reasons. He had worked for victims of abuse and assisted them with therapeutic treatments, therapies and referred them for the medical treatments.

The victim approached him and personally revealed the entire story over several occasions. She expected relief for the mental pain and the deep muscular pain she under went for the period of several months.

The psychologist listened to her carefully. Later he promised to help her get relief. The psychologist further promised her to help her if she attempted to get justice from any authority in the country.

How the Psychologist suppressed justice to the victim

The victim girl waited for helping hand from the said Psychologist for many weeks. Then she observed that this Psychologist was also avoiding her. Though the victim tried to follow him and talk to him, she was ignored continuously.

Several weeks later, she was shocked by observing what was going on in the office.

The HR Head announced the staff that, the wife of the psychologist was joining the office for the post of Consultant for Gender Matters. She also was paid with lucrative salary. She was given flexible working hours. She was allowed to visit the office anytime she wishes. But her salary was paid in time with all the benefits as a fulltime staff member.

Establishing the Gender Committee in the office 

Meanwhile the HR Head and the Former Head made a cunning attempt to establishing the façade of a Gender Complaint Investigating Committee. These two people appointed several members and it was declared before the staff.

The psychologist and his wife-gender officer, were included to the committee. The most shameful fact was as the Head of the Gender Committee they appointed the main perpetrator, the HR Head. The selection of the members was arbitrary. They just informed the staff about their appointments. They further mentioned that if there is any complaint on sexual abuses they can make complaint to this committee.


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Before appointing this committee, these two bosses ended the victim’s service by not extending her service contract in the office. After losing her job, she could not stay in this country, where the cost of living is exceptionally expensive. She left the country.

After making sure of her departure, these two heads announced the appointment of the committee.

Several years later, the office declared that as there was no any single reported complaint to the committee they had dissolved the committee. This is how a regional NGO provided justice to its victims of sexual abuses.   

Complaint to the Chairman of the Board of Directors

The victim finally directly made a written complaint to the Chairman of the Board of Directors of this Regional NGO and sought his intervention to provide justice.

With immediate effect, he wrote to the head of the organization questioning the situation of the complaint.  Within several days the Chairman wrote back to the victim that, the Management Committee of the Organization has investigated the case and reported their finding as, there have discussed and resolved the complaint, so that neither Chairman nor the Members of the Board of Directors need to interfere with the investigations.

The victim repeatedly affirmed that these two heads of the organization lied to the Chairman. According to her there was no such investigation by the management committee of the organization. Further, the management committee never met to discuss this matter.

We are aware of this as we were able to directly collect the testimonies of the several members of the management committee, whom testified that, there were no such discussions at all at the management committee. Further they told that, this particular Regional NGO intentionally ignored the management committee for many years as the installed HR Head considered the management committee as the major obstacle to his ruling in the office.

Conclusion:

This is a deplorable state of affairs and if it happened in any commercial company it would be bad enough. The fact that these events occurred in one of the most respected regional NGOs is unacceptable.

There can be no doubt that the people and the NGO mentioned in this article will recognize themselves. The question is, what are they going to do to make things right?

Our sole purpose of this revelation is based on several sacred objectives. We hope to encourage the governors of these organizations and the entire NGO communities to adopt certain Ethical Codes and Code of Conducts for the professionals involved in NGOs on dealing with the victims, protecting the witnesses and victims of sexual abuses. An exceptionally important motive would be adopting and upholding the Ethics for the Lawyers and legally related professionals in the field of NGOs in world. We are calling the lawyers in the NGO to reaffirm the Etiquette of Bar and adopt meaningful Standards of Professional Conducts and Etiquette for Lawyers who are engaged in NGO work.

Isn’t it the perfect moment for those men who disguised as Human Rights Defenders along with their bedfellows to find their own way out?

Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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