Sexual violence in humanitarian and development settings is not an emerging issue. On the contrary, it is a problem that has been quietly discussed for years.
Report the Abuse (RTA) grew out of a call to action that became evident after Megan Nobert, our Founder, spoke publically about her own experience with sexual violence while working as a humanitarian in South Sudan. While GBV professionals have long known that sexual violence was happening within organisations, as they often had to act as counselors and provide informal support to colleagues, this information was typically seen as anecdotal, leading to frustration about the reluctance of the humanitarian world to take this security and staff welfare issue seriously. Our Founder’s public pronouncement was therefore echoed by a clear need expressed by other humanitarian workers around the world, who were aware of sexual violence in the course of their work – as survivors and concerned peers. This strength of voices forms the foundation upon which RTA was founded and operates.
Our Founder’s public disclosure, alongside information about the sexual abuse of Kayla Mueller in captivity and sexual harassment scandals within the UN and other agencies, have forced humanitarian organisations to acknowledge that sexual violence happens in their workplaces. It has also resulted in discussions about how sexual violence can cause vicarious trauma to colleagues of survivors, affecting the larger working environment. The July 2016 attack on the Terrain Hotel in Juba further underscores the need to address the issue urgently.