6. Safeguarding: Protection from Sexual Harassment, Exploitation and Abuse (PSHEA)
Humanitarian emergencies can significantly increase the risk of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse, and child abuse, exacerbating the vulnerabilities of those most at risk – women, children and other socially marginalised groups such as the LGBTQI+ community. Breakdown in existing protective institutions, relationships, and exacerbated power imbalances between humanitarian workers, communities and programme participants affected by emergencies, significantly increases the likelihood of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse, and child abuse and lessen the probability of its occurrence being reported.
CARE takes a specific focus on protection from sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse, and child abuse, (SHEA-CA) during emergencies.
CARE, and all humanitarian aid organisations, have a duty of care to ensure that we are doing all that is reasonably possible, and within our control, to ensure that programme participants, employees, staff, related personnel and those in the wider community do not come to any harm as a consequence of their engagement in our programmes. This includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse, as well as negligence, exploitation and harassment. As articulated in the CI Safeguarding Policy: Protection from sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse, and child abuse, we are commitment to ensuring that safeguarding is embedded within our programmes and partnerships to prevent SHEA-CA from occurring within our programmes, offices and locations where we work.
The principle of ‘do no harm’ is paramount, obliging CARE to prevent and mitigate any negative impact of its actions on affected populations.
What we mean by Safeguarding and the Protection from Sexual Harassment, Exploitation, Abuse and Child Abuse (PSHEA-CA)
How emergencies affect sexual exploitation
Why prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse is important in an emergency response
Key concepts of high-level statement of commitment on SEA by UN and non-UN agencies
Policy at the Global level
Policy at the CARE International Members, Candidates and Affiliates level
Applying the Policy in Country Offices
Safer Recruitment: Guidance for HR Personnel
Safer Programming: Programme Management
PSHEA Training Workbook for Staff, Related personnel and Partners
A PSHEA training workbook for CARE staff, related personnel and partners that do not have internet access has been created. This workbook can be completed on a computer, or it can be printed out and accessed as an actual book/ learning guide. The workbook can be used by individuals or can be completed in small groups. It is available in English, French, Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese. Please refer to the short facilitation guide if you are planning on completing the training as part of a small group. For CARE staff and related personnel completing the workbook – please inform your PSHEA focal point when you have completed the workbook or provide details and names of staff that have attended training in small groups (that you have organised) so that this can be accurately recorded. You can access the workbooks in English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Portuguese.
There are a number of key guidelines and resources available to support CARE’s work to meet our safeguarding commitments. The resources included below are particularly useful for staff responsible for leading our safeguarding work. This may include embedding safeguarding into programmes and partnerships and ensuring adherence to the CI Safeguarding Policy and Safeguarding Code of Conduct across CARE.
Guidance for general reference for Safeguarding
This handbook, updated in 2020 to include sexual harassment, provides a complete reference guide to implementing measures for PSHEA. It is designed for use by organisations and in individual projects. Each chapter includes a case study to demonstrate how organisations have been undertaking their safeguarding work, including a case study from Empowered Aid in CARE Lebanon.
The guidelines can be used both by those who are in the initial stages of implementing safeguarding measures, or by experienced organisations to check that their work fully reflects current best practice.
This how-to note details the practices that are recommended by each set of standards on SHEA. The note includes practices under policy, prevention, response and reporting as well as providing additional points which organisations may wish to consider in the application of global standards.
For more information on global standards please look at the ‘International sector-wide Standards’ page.
Created by Keeping Children Safe (KCS), an independent NGO, these internationally recognised child safeguarding standards were designed to ensure that all organisations working with children have robust, comprehensive safeguarding measures in place. KCS provides guidance and tools on how to meet their four key standards: Policy, People Procedures and Accountability.
In addition to the standards, KCS also hosts a compendium of resources specifically designed to safeguarding children in humanitarian and development contexts.
Global Safeguarding Resource hubs
The IASC PSEA website was created to provide technical support and a resource hub for practitioners, and for tracking inter-agency, collective progress across countries with a humanitarian response though the PSEA Global Dashboard. The dashboard tracks progress on accelerating PSEA within humanitarian responses, as well as contact details for in-country PSEA networks and PSEA coordinators.
CARE participates in the IASC PSEA Technical Experts Group, supporting Humanitarian Coordinators and the Humanitarian Country teams to deliver on the IASC commitment to PSEA though technical support, resources and partnerships.
The Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) funded Resource and Support Hub was announced at the October 2018 London Safeguarding Summit. It provides access to a wide range of materials relating to safeguarding in the aid sector, to strengthen their safeguarding policy and practice against SHEA. However, it is also a very useful ‘go-to’ site for resources, webinars, consultants and safeguarding investigators for established organisations.
BOND, the UK network for organisations working in international development, have compiled an created a range of resources to support organisations to prevent and response to safeguarding concerns.
The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) have created a resource hub for news, guidance and resources on PSEA. This includes the ‘good practice toolkit’.
Guidance for Safer Recruitment
The Transforming Surge Capacity Project brought together 11 agencies to make surge capacity more effective and efficient across the sector. These Safer Recruitment guidelines were developed to share good practice in HR and people management, aiming to prevent perpetrators of abuse being able to move between organisations and committing further harm, abuse and exploitation.
Guidance for Managing Violence Against Aid Workers
Authored by the Global Inter-Agency Security Forum (GISF), this guide aims to support organisations in preventing, preparing for and responding to incidents of sexual violence against their staff. It is intended as a good practice guide to help strengthen existing processes and support organisations as the set up their own practices.
This guide is aimed at anyone with a responsibility for staff care, safety and security, as well as anyone involved in processes aimed at preventing or responding to incidents of sexual violence against staff, such as security focal points, HR staff, project and programmes staff, and first responders to incidents of sexual violence within an aid organisation.
Managing Sexual Violence Against Aid Workers: prevention, preparedness, response and aftercare (2019) is available in English, French and Spanish.
GISF have recently developed a free, interactive Managing Sexual Violence Guide with Disaster Ready available in English and Arabic.
Guidance for Investigations and Report Handing
Guidelines for Investigations: A guide for humanitarian organisations on receiving and investigating allegations of abuse, exploitation, fraud or corruption by their own staff, CHS Alliance, 2015
The Core Humanitarian Standards Alliance (CHS) developed guidelines to provide an overview of the key steps and issues to be considered when responding to allegations of SHEA, conducting and managing investigations. Before planning and conducting investigations, it is important for CARE to have safe, confidential and effective complaints handling mechanisms in place. The guidelines summarise how to establish an effective complaints mechanism, managing and investigating concerns, and reporting on findings.
It is recommended that users of this guidance have prior experience of conducting investigations and are familiar with key international standards on PSHEA.
The guidelines are available in English, Spanish, French and Arabic using the same link as above.
This toolkit provides the principles and key steps in responding to safeguarding concerns, and the core elements of a safeguarding report-handling mechanism in order to help organisations to identify strengths, gaps and weakness in current practice.
Guidance for Community Based Complaints Mechanisms
Global Standard Operating Procedures on PSEA for Inter-agency cooperation in community-based complaint mechanisms, IASC (2016)
CARE International contributed to the development of these SOPs. The SOPs are to be implemented in the humanitarian context, however they also have applicability in non-humanitarian contexts. The SOPs contain a number of useful annexes including Incident Reporting form, Complaints Referral form, and templates for Providing Feedback to Survivors/ complaints.
In September 2016 the IASC published Best Practice Guide Inter Agency Community Based Complaint Mechanisms. The guide offers practical guidance and includes global Standard Operating Procedures on inter-agency cooperation in complaints handling.
The Community-based Safeguarding Visual Toolkit was designed in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, Oxfam International, WaterAid, Translators without Borders and Interaction. The toolkit is open-source and adaptable for humanitarian and development organisations, to assist with communicating key safeguarding messages. Its overall purpose is to support communities in realising their rights in preventing SHEA by promoting a ‘speak-up’ culture. The visual tools have been designed to break down the barriers of language, literacy and accessibility and is available in multiple languages including French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Amharic, Dari, Bangla and Congolese Swahili.
The toolkit is available in multiple languages, several editing options, and in poster form.
This guidance note was produced by a collaboration of PSEA and Safeguarding specialists, representing organisations working to prevent and respond to PSEA during the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to provide advice to practitioners, especially those working with at-risk communities, on how to safely and appropriately communicate Safeguarding and PSEA messages during the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes ‘do’ and ‘do not’ checklists, outlines key considerations, and provides examples of key-messages and appropriate images that organisations can use in different contexts and with different audiences. it also includes links to further reading.
Although the guidance was written with a focus on COVID-19, the guidance is applicable across all contexts and locations.
Guidance for Inclusive Safeguarding
People with disabilities are often at an increased risk of SHEA. We must consider the specific risks and mitigation measures for people living with disabilities when designing and implementing programmes to ensure that they are inclusive and adhering to the principle of ‘do no harm’.
The guidance provides advice on how to ensure child safeguarding practices are disability inclusive, giving practical examples and how to include children with disabilities throughout the programme cycle, from proposal to close-out.
This article discusses the digital threats towards people identifying as LGBTQI and the ways in which organisations, and aid workers, can prepare and respond to them. It recognises that living in an increasingly connected world, where more of our lives are recorded, accessed and processed digitally can create risks. Where aid workers are working in places that can be hostile and sometimes violent to people who identify as LGBTQI, these digital threats can translate in to real incidents, putting people at risk of harm, abuse, harassment and even imprisonment.
For up-to-date maps on sexual orientation laws please consult the ILGA Maps on Sexual Orientation Laws.
Guidance for Safeguarding in Media and Communications
Safeguarding Children in Comms and Media: Handbook for Save the Children’s Media and Communications staff, Save the Children, (2017)
Developed by Save the Children, this guide outlines best practice when engaging children in communications and media, including practical advice on how to prepare, plan and deliver sensitive, supportive and effective communication. Guidance is given on how to obtain informed consent from children, as well as recognising and mitigating risk in content collection. Although the guidance is primarily written for engaging with children safely, the guidance can also be applied and adapted to adults.
Guidance for Safeguarding in Programmes
Empowered Aid is a multi-year, multi-country participatory action research project led by the Global Women’s Institute in partnership with CARE and URDA in Lebanon and IRC and World Vision in Uganda. The study examines the mechanisms through which aid is delivered and how the process might inadvertently increase the risk of SHEA, working with women and girls to better address and mitigate against those risk identified.
The toolkit applies the findings and recommendations shared from the women and girls, to reduce SHEA in aid distribution. The four tools included in the toolkit have been adapted from existing distribution monitoring tools to better account for SHEA risks. They include a safety audit, point of distribution questionnaire, household survey and a focus group discussion tool to be able to continually adapt distribution mechanisms and reduce the barriers that inhibit safety for women and girls.
This guideline has been developed to support staff in designing and implementing projects, programmes, advocacy and campaigns with children. The guideline offers practical tools and advice including an overview of the risk assessment process, to ensure that safeguarding is included in all programmes, consider the risks and mitigations, and strengthen existing safeguards.
Guidance for Safeguarding in Leadership
The Safeguarding Leadership tool is a discussion-based tool to support leaders of organisations to understand what a positive safeguarding culture looks like and how to implement and maintain it. It has been designed to help leaders in assessing their own organisational culture in relation to safeguarding, and to develop clear processes and actions to help prevent harm, abuse and exploitation.
The sector recognises that leadership, including trustees have particular responsibilities and roles in creating and maintaining a safeguarding culture, demonstrating positive behaviours compliant with Codes of Conduct and holding themselves and others to account in order to keep everyone safe. This guide is for boards of international NGOs. Although it is designed to comply with UK structures such as the charity commission the tools and guidance can be made applicable through adaptation, globally. The guidance is based on six sections including reducing risk, policy implementation, culture, investigation, and creating a trusting safe environment.
Guidance for a Survivor-centred approach to Safeguarding
This is a quick-reference tip sheet to understand good practice when engaging survivors of SHEA in policy making. The tip-sheet provides a list of key points and questions that organisations should be asking when working with survivors.
This case study discusses the International Rescue Committee’s approach to responding to disclosures, providing key recommendations including believing the survivor, empowering the survivor to make decisions, and always ensuring that other at-risk children and adults are safe.
This tool, developed by BOND, provides a three-step process to ensure that leaders prioritise survivors’ best interests over those of the organisation. It asks questions to leaders to consider how they would ensure a survivor-centred approach to an investigation, and that organisations are giving survivors the opportunity to feedback about the handling of their cases, the overall safeguarding processes of the organisation and that they are allocating financial and other resources to investigations and survivor care. Although the tool has been designed for leaders, it is very useful for safeguarding practitioners who may be looking to develop or review existing processes to ensure they are survivor-centred.
The NO MORE foundation is dedicated to ending domestic violence and sexual assault. The foundation, in partnership with the UN and the World Bank, established a comprehensive international directory of domestic violence and sexual assault resources in every UN-recognised country and territory in the world. It includes contact details and a mapping of national and international organisations working in those countries and territories who are working to prevent and respond to abuse and harm, and support survivors.