The recent #MeToo hashtag and associated social media storm highlighted the extensiveness of sexual abuse and harassment and the exploitation of women and girls (and in some cases men and boys) by those in positions of power. It showed that the problem does not come down to a few “bad apples”, but is systemic, impacting people around the globe and of varying socio-economic levels.
Sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) is most prominent in contexts where people experience gendered and material vulnerabilities or inequalities, such as in conflict and post-conflict contexts and during natural disasters where unequal power dynamics, material deprivation and insecurity are rife. SEA perpetrated by UN peacekeepers is probably the most insidious and well-known example of this dynamic.
But the problem does not just apply to peacekeepers, it is larger and more systemic.