Protester ambushes aid event on sex abuse scandal

A feminist campaigner accused Britain's women's minister of failing to give women a voice at a summit called to end sexual abuse in the aid sector.

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
Protester ambushes aid event on sex abuse scandal - NewsMavens
Penny Mordaunt. Facebook

Why this story matters:

Britain's Women and Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt was addressing the audience of a summit on aid sector sexual abuse in London when a protester crashed onto the stage.

Confronting Mordaunt while her voice was amplified to the crowd and cameras by a microphone, Alexia Pepper De Caires, a whistleblower, co-founder of feminist collective NGO Safe Space and former Save The Children employee, said she and fellow female colleagues were denied from speaking at the event.

“A number of us would like to be on this platform but we have been kept back by DfID [Department for International Development] and your attempts to control women who are speaking out in this sector," said the protester.

She said she was angry to learn that her former employer Save The Children was involved in a new safeguarding project to strengthen vetting systems in charities and tackle sexual misconduct in the sector, despite being in question itself.

Save The Children is under investigation by the Charity Commission for potential mishandling of workplace sexual harassment allegations following a scandal that unravelled claims of sexual misconduct at a number of charities founded in Britain.

Details from the story:

  • Alexia Pepper De Caires accused an international aid summit on sexual abuse in the aid sector of ignoring women's voices before she was escorted off of the stage by security.
  • Women and Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt apologised to Pepper De Caires and said she was unaware of the specific issues with the summit put forward by the protester's campaign group Code Blue.
  • Mordaunt offered Pepper De Caires and her colleagues a later time slot at the event to speak.
  • The International Safeguarding Summit on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse in London was called in response to a scandal exposed in February that found employees of Oxfam had committed sexual abuses against women in Haiti.
  • The revelations led to Oxfam's chief executive's departure and other claims of sexual exploitation and abuse at other charities, including Save The Children.
  • The summit's theme was “Putting People First”, according to a press release published by British government. It said the event's focus was on preventing abuse and improving support for victims and survivors.
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