Sexual Violence and Abuse in the Aid Workplace and Humanitarian Settings

Sexual violence, exploitation, and abuse is a reality in the aid world. Yet it is rarely reported as a security or safety incident.

Unequal power relationships contribute towards exploitation and abuse. There are many unequal power dynamics at play within humanitarian settings.

The aid workplace is hierarchical as are the relationships between aid workers and beneficiaries. There has been an increase in reporting of sexual violence in humanitarian settings. However, many cases often go undetected and unreported.

Humanitarian organisations have a responsibility to safeguard beneficiaries of their services as well as their personnel from harm, including from sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. Humanitarian organisations have a duty of care to provide a safe working environment for their staff and to ensure that effective safeguarding mechanisms are in place.

Sexual violence in all its form violates human rights. Incidents of this kind are deeply distressing for the survivor, their family, their colleagues and the whole aid community. Sexual violence incidents also have the potential to leave survivors with lifelong physical and mental health problems.

Latest News

We have developed a series of country profiles which analyse patterns and dynamics of conflict-related sexual violence. Our profiles focus on the perpetrators of sexual violence, including the number involved in separate attacks, as well as analysis on the attack location and context. Find out more here.

Insecurity Insight data on ACLED

We share our sexual violence in conflict datasets with the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED). These events are cited as Insecurity Insight on the ACLED database.

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Our Work

At Insecurity Insight we are specialized in the reporting and collating of reported information about threats facing people living and working in humanitarian settings.

Country Profiles
We have developed a series of country profiles which analyse patterns and dynamics of conflict-related sexual violence. Our profiles focus on the perpetrators of sexual violence, including the number involved in separate attacks, as well as analysis on the attack location and context. Find out more here.

Monthly News Briefs
Our Monthly News Briefs report cases of sexual violence by law enforcement bodies, conflict related sexual violence, and sexual violence that targets IDPs, refugees or vulnerable beneficiaries. They are a testimony to the survivor’s bravery and willingness to report and share their experience and it is encouraging to see that reporting of sexual violence in increasing. Our monthly news briefs cover publicly reported events however we know that there are many more incidents of sexual violence which remain unreported.

Online Reporting Tools

Report abuse in the aid workplace: This online reporting tool is aimed towards international and national staff working in the aid sector who have experienced sexual harassment and abuse in their workplace. We have previously worked with Report the Abuse to whom many individuals reported their experience of sexual violence and abuse. Following its closure due to a lack of funding, we have carried on the reporting facility. Report abuse is a safe and secure online reporting platform for survivors of sexual violence and abuse in the aid workplace to report their experience.

Report abuse in the public healthcare response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). We are currently developing an online reporting tool for individuals who are working in public health responses in the DRC and who have experienced sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers also working within that health response. This reporting tool has been created following the recent revelations of widespread sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers working in the 10th Ebola response in the DRC. We know that there are risks of the same patterns continuing to occur, especially with the current COVID-19 health crises and the 11th Ebola outbreak. We believe that survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse deserve a safe and secure platform to report their experience.

Get in touch with us

If you are an organisation or individual working on sexual violence, exploitation and abuse and would like to partner with us to do anything on reporting and recording of these incidents please get in touch with us.

Sexual Abuse of Peacekeepers

Militarized institutions are often sites for sexual harassment and abuse and although there has been almost no attention to sexual abuse of peacekeepers, it is hypothesized that sexual harassment and abuse is committed against military and police peacekeepers within peacekeeping missions.

This survey is for individuals with knowledge on this topic. The survey will take approximately 10 minutes. You do not have to have personal experience of harassment or abuse to participate and you can share as little or as much about your experience as you feel comfortable. Participation in this survey is voluntary and you will not be compensated for your participation.

The survey is sponsored by the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations and will result in a report published by the Women, Peace and Security program at the International Peace Institute.

You may be interested in



Our ‘Responding to Sexual Violence’ mobile guide can help you take action, report, and get support when sexual violence and abuse happens to you or a colleague.



Hear Megan Norbet – Founder and Former Director of Report the Abuse – share her advice on how NGOs should respond if a member of staff reports an incident of sexual violence.



EISF’s guide “Managing Sexual Violence Against Aid Workersprovides information for aid agencies in preventing, being prepared for and responding to incidents of sexual violence against their staff.

SIIM Guidance Handbook

SIIM Guidance Handbook

Tool 7: Good Practice in gender-sensitive incident reporting & complaints mechanism for reporting SEA. Access the tool kit here.



Selective quick charts and datasets are available on the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX).