Let’s Press For Progress on Prosecuting SEA in the Aid Sector


In the past few weeks there has been significant outcry and comment on the activities of international development agencies in countries where they work spreading aid and apparently disease and immorality. Their crimes against women have been exposed for all to see. Their crimes in Haiti, in Chad, in South Sudan, in Syria. Even crimes  sexual exploitation and abuse crimes committed by international agencies in the United Kingdom.

In the ensuing hand wringing and apologies we have heard again and again – from DIFD, from the Charity Commission, from Penny Mordaunt and even form the UN how they are learning and working to make it better. How they are improving safe guarding and whistle blowing procedures and mechanisms and how they are supporting and helping the women that have been abused and exploited by agents of these organisations.

I am yet to hear of one single woman that has been helped. I am yet to hear of one single women that has been supported. I am yet to hear of one single women that has been rehabilitated or restored. I am yet to hear of one single predator facing criminal, civil  or even long term professional consequences. All I have heard is how the agencies are ‘improving’ and ‘learning’ and how deeply and truly sorry they are. How much they regret the impact of the abuse on the abused.

Femi Oke raised this issue in her insightful video on the Haitian women that were raped by UN staff and left with children they can scarce afford to care for. She asked the UN Under Secretary General why its taking so long to actually give these women justice. And I would like to ask everyone all over the world that is piously and opportunistically claiming they stand with the victims why is it taking so long? You believe her? So what?

Everyone says they cannot turn back time and undo the sins and crimes of the past. Everyone seems to claim that all they can do is ‘prevent.’ I would like to know how well attempts at prevention have worked so far. Have we prevented war crimes? We have been talking and writing about it since 1945. Have we been able to prevent famine and poverty? After decades of fighting both? Have we been able to prevent disease and death? Murder? Rape? Corruption? Greed? Crime?

I laud the efforts at prevention but I do declare that prevention has not yet prevented anything.

There is only one way to deal with crimes. And sexual assault and rape and domestic violence and all the other crimes of violence against women and men too. And that is to punish the perpetrators, the violent, the criminals. There must be consequences for bad behaviour. And the bad behaviour has to be identified correctly because right now the only people that seem to be suffering the consequences of SEA are the women who are the victims.

Of course the prospect of punishing men for sexual assault sexual crimes and sexual harassment seems like a daunting one. Which man will escape punishment? Which man will not be implicated? Because men (and the women that enable them) seem to believe that there are few men that would be found innocent. I do not believe this. I believe that there are many men in the world that are not predatory in their sexual and social behaviour.

Ban Ki Moon, Winnie Binyanyima, Mark Goldberg, Caroline Thompson, Barbara Stocking have all come out and made grovelling public apologies and expressed how bad they feel about the ongoing sexual exploitation and abuse in the international development sector. But nothing has changed. The first reports of SEA in aid organisations may have emerged as early as 2008. I raised the alarm in 2010. Helen Evans raised the alarm in 2014. We are now in 2018 and some people are still ‘learning’ and ‘improving.’  Whether you take that from 2008 or 2014 that is enough time to get a first degree, a graduate degree or even a PhD. What are they still learning pray tell me?

Jane Holl Lute that was appointed to coordinate and strengthen the UN response to SEA went on record to say ‘that for the women of the world this is an ever present danger. there is no where women are safe, there is no family, no church, no school, no organisation, no work place.”

I say that is a woman that gave up before she even started. I reject her premise. There ARE places and spaces where women are safe. And we create them. Femi Oke asked her an important question – why are there so few cases that actually get to court? Ms. Lute’s response – I don’t know the answer to that.

I do. There is no real political will to actually get any cases before the courts. And if any case were to make it before the court the same organisations now extolling their regret would pay very expensive lawyers to discredit and tear apart the women that dared to complain. Save the Children have already sent lawyers to shut down media that report on their crimes. Oxfam’s PR machine has moved forward extolling the great work they purportedly do now that the initial outrage has subsided.

Its all hypocrisy. Its all platitudes and fancy grammar. Just because some clever people have mastered the speakese of gender equality does not make them gender complaint. That was the very problem that I tried to highlight at Oxfam when I was their country director in Nigeria in the aftermath of my assault and even before.

A male program manager actually suggested that I ‘tease’ him when issuing instructions instead of just telling him what to do. You know – why don’t you smile a little first, some sugar with the medicine. He actually used that word. He didn’t even get a slap on the wrist when I reported it. One of the deputy regional directors was a complete rake. He did not see that his constant sexually charged comments were NOT gender friendly. And when I tried to point it out to them what I got was outrage – and denial. After all – one of them said to me – I ensure that at least 50% of my beneficiaries are women. Now with hindsight I am again struck by how sinister that sounds. Did insisting that more beneficiaries of the aid Oxfam and other organisations were handing out unintentionally make women more vulnerable?

My abuser at Oxfam in his response to my accusation of sexual assault said in his defence when asked why he didn’t respond to my email demanding an apology and a promise to desist from further SEA that ‘she wanted to use her gender against me’ echoing an earlier petition by one of my male program officers who wrote to the regional office that I ‘wanted to dominate my environment.’ I’m still trying to understand exactly what they meant. Surely these are leadership qualities that were being very cynically used against me.  And only a problem because I am a woman. Which male executive would be reported for trying to dominate his environment?

I wish I can say that I am impressed by the measures the UN, DFID, Oxfam, Save the Children, the  UK’s Charity Commission et al are taking to ‘prevent’ SEA. I am not. And you shouldn’t be either. They are just saying what they need to say to ensure that the money keeps rolling in and that their lifestyle and their power stays intact. If that means grovelling for the media and the public so be it.

I’ll be impressed when they actually prosecute or punish someone, and I don’t mean just dismiss them or let them resign and move on to other organisations. I mean real consequences, like the kind that the victims and whistle blowers have had to suffer. Loss of income, bullying, loss of status and respect, and credibility. I’m pretty certain that Penny Lawrence has already received her first consultancy contract from Oxfam or one of their friends. They won’t let let lose her house through failure to pay her mortgage or her children lose their education opportunities. They will reward her for making a ‘sacrifice to the cause.’  And the cause is Big Money. And Power.

For everyone $1 that flows into ‘poor countries’ from ‘rich countries’ $24 flow from these same poor countries to the rich. The aid industry was is worth $130BILLION a year but the net outflows to the rich countries of the south is over $1 TRILLION. Like Russell Brand so eloquently put it ‘the neutral governing and regulating bodies are in fact the administrative henchmen of a system of globalisation that is based on the exploitation of poorer countries.’

We really need to rethink aid. For most of my time working in development I avoided the debates around foreign aid. I avoided them because it would have been hypocritical of me as an employee and hence a beneficiary of foreign aid to criticise aid. It created too much cognitive dissonance. And I really thought I could change the system from the inside. I thought they would listen to me as a national and as an expert on her environment. Did they? Of course not.

I left Ashoka not only because they didn’t pay me enough for the kind of hours they expected me to keep but also because they really didn’t want to promote appropriate development. Oxfam offered more money. Now I know why. Its how they keep everyone compliant. Notice that during most of the scandal only a handful of former employees dared to come forward and say anything against the aid cartel in Africa? Who wants to lose a well paid job or consultancy on a continent that isn’t creating jobs and isn’t paying a living wage for most jobs? Mostly the aid agencies just exploit our bleeding hearts. We’re just the foot soldiers that do their dirty work while they divide the spoils. And like we all know, foot soldiers are not supposed to question the capo or the boss. I did a lot of that. Not sorry.

I’m not going to tell anyone what to do. Give money to humanitarian causes or not give money. Work for humanitarian causes or not work for them. Go to Africa or any other country you think is less privileged than yours and build a school or a hospital or not. Support the left or support the right. Those are individual and personal choices. Do whatever makes you feel good.

I feel pretty good. I brought attention to the SEA of female staff working for BINGOs in Africa. Don’t worry, they’ll get around to that eventually. All its going to take is just one more whistle blower to prove their hypocrisy even in the wake of the scandals of the past 6 months. Right now they’re prioritising SEA of beneficiaries and not employees because the legal liability is less onerous. It won’t be long now. Abusers abuse. They cant help themselves. And somewhere out  there, there is another woman just like me who won’t keep quite.

Happy International Women’s Day.


Art by Favianna Rodriguez, US artist/activist of Latina and Afro-Peruvian roots

The Oxfam Saga Continues

“The experience of those who reported abuse, including a former Oxfam country director who said she survived a rape attempt at headquarters in Oxford, did not encourage others. Lesley Agams, who had been highly rated at Oxfam, said she was handed a dismissal letter by the man who attacked her.

The UN whistleblowers in Haiti also suffered; although they were not forced out, they received anonymous threats while the investigation was going on, and their careers did not flourish after it finished.

“They had taken a very difficult step, because it is essentially saying goodbye to your career,” the former UN staffer said. “If you blow the whistle when you are out in the field, you may never be hired again – it makes you very vulnerable.”

The Guardian

Behind the sex parties and scandals in Haiti lies a culture of secrecy and lack of diversity


The Gospel According To Lesley: Home vs. Nest

‘Home’ can seem so relative and so meaningless. A hotel is ‘home’ if that’s where you eat, sleep and wake up with familiar people that may or may not be ‘family.’ And by that definition so is pretty much anywhere else you carry out those functions. You may have had many ‘homes’ in your life time. Your parent’s. Your grandparent’s. Your in-law’s. Foster care. Your first flat. Your last flat.

A ‘nest’ on the other hand at once suggests something personal, unique and cosy.  If someone tells you they’re ‘nesting’ you have no doubt what so ever what they mean. A clear image immediately springs to mind. Besides, no one says ‘homing’ or ‘home making’ (unless you’re a housewife, do housewife’s say that anymore even?) and ‘home maker’ is NOT what you mean. Neither is ‘decorating.’ You’re not decorating. You’re kinda settling in with your stuff around you. Without the burden of permanency.

Do you remember a rather melodramatic post from 3 years ago about fear of commitment? You can read it  again here. So much melodrama over a 3 month commitment to a flat share but here you are 3 years later – nesting.

Then you realise that the nest is kinda small and that you get quite a few people staying over despite your cranky attempts to push everyone away. So you figure maybe its time to get a bigger nest because family and friends really matter to you.






The First Day of the Rest of Your Life



Hi. Happy New Year.

Thank you for following my blog.

I’m glad that you found something useful, inspiring, enlightening or entertaining here. Because that’s all I really want to do – inform, inspire, enlighten and entertain. Especially entertain. I’m not trying to convince you that my point of view is right or wrong. I don’t know that is. I’m just sharing my point of view which can be quirky, heretical, mind blowing and impractical sometimes but always original. And always creative. And inspiring.

I want to make you think. And maybe question your assumptions. I like being subversive. I sincerely believe that nothing is sacred and anything is possible. If you can think it, you can manifest it. I also believe that I should leave the world better off than when I arrived – not worse. Yes. That could mean me or the world. Or both. I love puns, metaphors and paradoxes. I love mind games. I love challenging group think.

Freedom is my primary value.  I have high value for self direction, stimulation and universalism and low value for security, power and conformity.

I explored many routes during my journey to self determination. Religious. Philosophical. Scientific. Magical. Professional. I studied Law, The Bible, The Bhagavad Gita, The Harvard Business Review, Vogue, Zen Buddism, atheism, libertarianism, Lassez Faire capitalism, capitalism, philanthropy, philanthro-capitalism, feminism, womanism, African feminism, Afropolitanism.

I had a whole lot of teachers. I’m grateful to all of them. Even the ones that hated me a whole lot. I instinctively resist any and all attempts to bully and confine me. I respond to haters by doing more of what they hate. So I just got better and better at being me.

A couple of years ago I started studying wealth and success and came across the Laws of Attraction. I’ve always attracted good fortune, I was less fortunate in holding on to it. Or so it seemed.  Take my case with Oxfam and my career in the humanitarian sector. Right? No way. Thank god Oxfam happened. I might have still been stuck in that industry working crazy long hours for someone else – and for peanuts compared to what I earn now.

Oxfam wasn’t a fit. Ashoka was closer to a fit but still wasn’t what I wanted and they really paid peanuts. I’m doing exactly what I want to do now and earning more. As a matter of fact I’d be happy doing what I’m doing even if I wasn’t paid to do it. Yeah. I found that place. And it doesn’t involve crazy work hours, sexual harassment and someone higher up the ladder stealing my ideas. Work – life balance is built in.

It wasn’t easy to get here. I had a lot of resistance, external and internal too. After being an employee it seemed like I couldn’t possibly live well if someone wasn’t paying my salary. The first couple of years were especially scary as everything crashed around me.  I’ve had a lot of adventures in the  years since then. Thanks for sharing them with me. I’m in a good place now. In the place that I want to be – feeling good.

I had a pretty good year last year. And I’m confident that 2018 is going to be even better. Only doing the things that make me feel good. Living my best life. And still sharing it with you – to inform, inspire, enlighten and entertain. And make you think a little. And maybe laugh a little too.

Here’s to a fabulous 2018.


Talking About Beauty: Ayurveda & Exercise

I found out from my ayurveda therapist that my constitution vata (find out yours here) doesn’t need strenuous exercise. It just overheats the body. I never did finish that story about my experience with hot yoga. Around day 45 of my 60 day challenge I was exhausted physically and had some weird ridge growing in my abdomen.

Boy did I freak out. I was sure it was something awful like cancer and I was going to die. The therapist told me it was just my body reacting to what it did not like. The heat, the strain,  the sweat. I never did like sweat and heat and strain but thought I had to endure it because well I heard somewhere thats how thing were done.

“No” my therapist told me. “Your constitution needs calm stuff like yoga, swimming and walks outdoors.”

No wonder I could never stick to one of those hectic gym schedules. Or a running routine. So now I do 30mins of yoga and 30 mins walk or dance daily. I’m working up to an hour each.

I started my at home yoga practice really small. I went through up and downs. Some mornings I was all gung ho about it and some mornings it just wasn’t a priority and I skipped yoga. I pushed through those. I didn’t let it stop me altogether. Gradually it became part of my daily routine and I noticed that it did help me function better too. I think I’m addicted to yoga now. But as addictions go that ain’t so bad. I’m an addictive personality.

I also go dancing once a week. I’ve started salsa lessons. Love it. Love the music. And I am overcoming my biggest challenge in salsa. Letting the man lead. read about it here. And let the music lead. I love the sexual energy in Latina dance. Our Igbo dances are less about sex and more about energy and acrobatics. Or seduction. Anyway I figure that should keep things ticking along just fine. I do not want to be jumping upandan, jiggling, sweating and getting hot more than I have to.

And its about time I stop putting it off and finally take those swimming lessons. Yeah.



#WCC2017 – Welcome to 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women

Hey. Over here

Women's Crisis Centre Nigeria

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you so much for honouring our invitation.

Today is the International day for the Elimination of all Forms of Violence Against Women.

We are here to share and reinforce our commitment to ending VAW and ‘leaving no one behind.’

The Women’s Crisis Centre started out in Owerri, Imo State in 2002 as a community based organisation empowering the community to end VAW as part of a MacArthur Fund for Leadership Development Grant. Since then it has grown and has provided legal and counselling services and training to more than 5000 men and women around the world.

In 2002 we set up the first shelter for victims and trained community advocates to mediate domestic conflicts in Owerri, Imo State. In 2010 we ran a series of lectures and a free family law clinic in Abuja that reached hundreds. Since 2011 we have counselled and advised thousands…

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The White Savior Industrial Complex & Sexual Harassment of African Female Aid Workers. Pls Take Our Poll


Don’t ever stop speaking your truth, no matter how much they try to shut you up.
It maybe almost 8 years later but guess what….someone is finally listening!

Chi Onwurah MP has offered to look into my assault while working at Oxfam GB AND bring sexual harassment in the development industry in Africa to the attention of Royal African Society and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Africa.

Got a story to share? Send me a PM and or take my Poll. Let’s kick sexual predators out of the international development sector in Africa and make it truly humanitarian.



Source: The White Savior Industrial Complex & Sexual Harassment of African Female Aid Workers. Pls Take Our Poll