Phoebe Donnelly presents at conference “Protecting the Unprotected”

From September 21-22, The Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV) hosted a conference, “Protecting the Unprotected: Humanitarian Action and Human Rights after the WHS.” Phoebe Donnelly, a visiting fellow at Feinstein, gave a presentation at the conference Thursday.

As one of the co-lead researchers on the Sexual Assault and Humanitarian Workers Project, Phoebe spoke on the project’s preliminary findings, including:

  • Sexual violence against aid workers can occur in different situations from attacks against staff during ongoing armed conflict or among colleagues.
  • Aid workers, especially those working in the context of an armed conflict, often feel an unspoken ethos that they should not report their own experiences with sexual abuse.
  • Within an organization, people feel more comfortable reporting an incident of serious sexual violence—attempted assault, rape—if other issues of gender bias are taken seriously.
  • National staff may be especially at risk due to their greater exposure in local populations and due to the power dynamics between international and national staff.
  • Only a few agencies are comprehensively addressing the issue of sexual assault against their staff, and there is little acknowledgement of how sexual harassment, sexual identity blackmail, and abuse affects LGBTQI aid workers.