The Director General of WHO promises exemplary sanctions against perpetrators of alleged sexual violence in the DRC.
Would we have passed, in the internal justice of the World Health Organization, from the era of the presumption of innocence to that of the presumption of guilt?
After the recent denunciations of alleged sexual violence allegedly perpetrated by, among others, WHO staff in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the organization's emergency program chief, Michael Ryan, says he “assumes that victims don't lie”.
Last Friday, from Geneva, the director general drove the point home by mentioning "a betrayal" of the people assisted and by promising "serious sanctions", including "immediate dismissals", against any person implicated, whether he is be members of staff, actors who collaborate with the organization or partners.
Scandal in the DRC
The martial nature of the official WHO positions is justified for three reasons. First, the revelations of The New Humanitarian and the Thomson Reuters Foundation are damning. About fifty women claim to have been victims of sexual exploitation by "humanitarians" who were working as part of the response to the epidemic of Ebola hemorrhagic fever.
However, the accusations are largely supported by more or less direct witnesses, in particular the drivers who witnessed the establishment of sexual arrangements so regular "that it was as if we were going shopping at the supermarket. "In line of sight, in particular, the imposition of an intimate contact as" passport for employment ".
Take care of your image
If the WHO makes intransigent speeches even before justice has drawn conclusions, it is also because it needs to heal its image, particularly in Africa.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Organization has been accused of snobbery vis-à-vis popular treatments based on artemisia or hydroxychloroquine, of catastrophism, even of obscure conspiracy in the service of large pharmaceutical laboratories.
If recent comments by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus are martial, it is finally that the sex scandals involving the staff of international organizations constitute a media sea snake. If the confrontation between precariousness and power traditionally titillates debauchery libidos, the “white knights” of universalist humanitarianism do not escape the temptation.
In recent years, for example, there have been cases of abuse by peacekeepers from various backgrounds and in areas such as the Central African Republic, Liberia or Haiti.
The WHO, which aims to bring all people to "the highest possible level of health" should be the last to compromise the psychological and sexual well-being of these populations.
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