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The Oxfam/Haiti scandal

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Smuel, Feb 12, 2018.

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  1. Smuel

    Smuel Well-Known Member

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    I'm having some trouble understanding this, so naturally my first thought was to consult the fine people of 4chan to help me out, but then I remembered that they're all trolls and weirdos, so I came here instead.

    The headline is "Oxfam workers paid for sex with prostitutes!". However, I don't see what's so scandalous about this. There are variations on the headline that I think WOULD be scandalous, e.g. "Oxfam workers used Oxfam money to pay for prostitutes", or "Oxfam workers coerced women into prostitution", or "Oxfam workers had sex with under-age girls". However, when I read the articles, they say that, well, some of the prostitutes MAY have been under-age, but nobody is sure. This sounds like a post-hoc attempt to justify the outrage rather than anything based on evidence. Especially since that's not the headline they lead with.

    Prostitution is illegal in Haiti, which may have been a factor, but it's not illegal in the UK, where the scandal broke. Also, the news coverage certainly doesn't approach it from an "Oxfam workers broke local laws!" perspective. Plus I can't imagine an equivalent scenario where the headline is "Oxfam workers smoked marijuana!" even though that would be illegal in both countries.

    So, are we supposed to be outraged that prostitution exists and that Oxfam workers are normal human beings? What am I missing?
     
  2. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    Prostitution is still pretty frowned upon in the UK and seen as immoral, and I imagine people expect charity workers to be paragons of morality - some of the BBC coverage seems to suggest that, "charity 'failed in moral leadership'".

    Besides that, with it being illegal in Haiti, I doubt it's a situation of the women these workers were seeing were prostitutes because they made a career decision to become one - they'll likely be prostitutes under duress (trafficked and/or pimped out). You don't expect charity workers on the one hand to be helping out the local population and on the other exploiting a small number of them and contributing to their misery. It also appears to be the director of charity work in the area who was one of the ones hiring prostitutes, so that seems worse than if it's a mistake made by your workers on the ground.

    Lastly I think it's a touch of the Streisand effect. While Oxfam denies a cover-up, reading the press coverage it seems like the whole situation wasn't made quite as transparent as it could have been - so now it's coming out it's a bigger scandal than it would have been if they had just been straightforward.

    That said, the coverage is disproportionate and Oxfam themselves have said, "Use of prostitutes was 'not explicitly contrary' to Oxfam's code of conduct at the time," so it doesn't seem like they broke any rules with their actions at the time per se. I suppose news is slow with the international community keeping peace due to the winter olympics, if North Korea did try and start shit with now with the people of so many countries on their doorstep that would be disastrous - so the press will have to wait until the games have finished to get back to their usual programme of scaremongering.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  3. Smuel

    Smuel Well-Known Member

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    Right, so it is just illogical thinking along the lines of "prostitution is wrong, and if you have sex with a prostitute then it's kind of like it's your fault that she's in that situation."

    Obviously I would prefer to live in a world where nobody ever felt they had no choice in life but to become a prostitute. But if the problem is that some women have no other economic opportunities I guess I really don't see where the moral issue is with a charity worker participating in the one economic opportunity that they do have.

    As for "some of them were probably coerced into it", that sounds like the post-hoc "some of them may have been under-age" attempt to rationalise the outrage.

    Fundamentally, if someone spends their life in disaster-ravaged parts of the world helping to distribute food to starving children, I don't feel it's justifiable for office workers in the UK to feel morally superior because that person also visited a prostitute. I mean, what have I ever done to help the people of Haiti? My outrage certainly isn't going to help them, so why is it being solicited?

    I am outraged that I am expected to feel outrage about this.
     
  4. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    No in general I think sex-trafficking and borderline slavery is still quite a problem in countries with legal prostitution (I'm currently unwilling to commit to google searching things to back up my claims, but I think there was a doc about the german brothels a couple of years ago to this extent). In countries with illegal prostitution, I can only imagine the situation is worse - though there's possibly less trafficking when you can just pluck people off the streets. In terms of it being "an opportunity they do have", that really depends on what kind of wage they're allowed to keep for themselves.

    Saying some of them might have been coerced into it isn't anything post-hoc, I'm not trying to link it to the under-age angle which is impossible to prove in the first place. I think that because of their situation they didn't have much of a say in the matter in the first place - not that they were necessarily threatened into anything.

    As someone who is usually aligned with liberalism, I think prostitution is fine. As a person, I think the fact most of society is failing to catch up to the liberal mindset and not properly protect prostitutes under the law is massive problem. Even though it's technically legal in the UK, I'd still say it's a fairly dangerous profession. In countries with even less laws protecting legality, especially where it is outright illegal, I can only suspect it's the all worse.

    So yes, I think use of illegal prostitutes in any county is pretty shitty as things go (in regards to their welfare, not in regards to the morality of paying for sex - which I consider neutral all the way around). I'd also say it can be dubious in our country (again on the basis of their welfare), because there can still be a lot of exploitation on the supplier's end.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  5. Smuel

    Smuel Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, no. Apparently, statistics on sex trafficking have been massively exaggerated in the UK and Germany, at least according to this article in the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/oct/20/trafficking-numbers-women-exaggerated

    Of course, you can say that this has no bearing on the situation in Haiti, but I think it casts enough doubt on the knee-jerk "omg all teh prostuties r forced!" attitude that I can safely say that my views are 100% correct and everyone else is 100% wrong.
     
  6. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    Well if you are going to frequent prostitutes Smuel make sure they have an English accent to eliminate the trafficking angle (or German, if you're still there). In a high crime country like Haiti I guess prostitutes live the lap of luxury and there's not a single incidence of them being press ganged into it. If you can't be unequivocally sure that isn't the case, then it's not a conscientious thing to do - and not behaviour that is naturally fitting of aid workers who you expect to be conscientious (they've made a vocational choice to choose a humanitarian profession, you wouldn't presume people just fall into a career like that).

    I'm not personally annoyed about it, but it's pretty apparent why people would be. If you're overly invested into a prostitutes-are-great angle, then you're going to keep being annoyed at other people being annoyed about it - so I don't know what to tell you.
     
  7. Smuel

    Smuel Well-Known Member

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    I don't think prostitutes are great. After all, they are people, and I scorn all people. However, I do think that it's morally hypocritical for middle-class UKers to get all up on their high horse about charity workers, who feed starving third-world children, because it turns out that they spend their spare time doing something that the UKers disapprove of.

    Furthermore, I'd bet that the average Haiti prostitute is no more exploited than the average Chinese factory worker, and yet those UKers are only too happy to buy cheap jeans and use iPhones to post their outrage online without thinking twice about who assembled them.

    Further-furthermore, I'd also bet that a non-zero percentage of the pundits and writers who are eagerly stoking the scandal have themselves hired a prostitute while in a foreign country.

    Let he who is without sin post the first tweet.
     
  8. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    True

    And true.

    https://twitter.com/Jojobobo123/status/964570060982571009?ref_src=twsrc^tfw

    Now enjoy all my catalogue of screenshots I tweeted from my PS4 from Skyrim so I could embed them into Skyrim build blog posts - lucky you.

    EDIT: Well now a female Oxfam worker in Haiti has said that she was sexually assaulted by a higher-up (here). Regardless of the potential hypocrisy you were talking about, this revelation colours Oxfam negatively. Potentially spurious hindsight (I believe it, but Devil's advocate and all that) makes you wrong Smuel, dead wrong! You and your 100 percents!
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018
  9. Smuel

    Smuel Well-Known Member

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    Aww, did choo tweet that for meeee? *kiss*

    Anyway, it seems you're right. The top headline today is all about the heads of Oxfam grovelling and apologising for the predatory behaviour of abusers who assaul...

    Oh wait, no, they don't even mention that far more serious allegation of attempted rape. It's still all about how 7 out of 500 Oxfam workers in Haiti hired prostitutes. Oh and by the way they were fired for it at the time, and Oxfam reported it. But never mind that - let's rake Oxfam over the coals for having done something wrong.

    Now thousands of people have stopped donating to Oxfam. And the media and politicians are all pointing fingers at Oxfam and saying "this is your fault". And when the Oxfam heads apologise and say they feel bad about it the politicians smugly reply "You feel bad? You're not the victims here!" Right, so who are the victims exactly? Have any Haiti prostitutes come forward and said they felt coerced by Oxfam workers? Perhaps the real victims are the future children who will now starve to death because Oxfam won't have as much funding because the media and politicians have created a massive scandal out of almost nothing.

    Let me be clear - I am not saying that any time a charity worker does something bad we should cover it up because charity work is good. But I am wondering why we are making a big song and dance about 1% of Oxfam workers hiring prostitutes and being fired for it, when it seems like standard behaviour for the human race and an entirely reasonable handling of it by Oxfam.
     
    Jojobobo likes this.
  10. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    Yeah that seems pretty fair, clearly Oxfam do good charity work so by not donating to them all people are doing is stopping aid for people who need it. Seems like an odd way to go about punishing them for it, because it's not really Oxfam that are going to be feeling the punishment in the first place.

    And yes, it was all for you ;)
     
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