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The message on those Oxfam T-shirts

Have you ever watched someone make a speech and caught the moment when the speaker lost the sympathy of the audience? Those friendly to the speaker wince, suppress it, and lock their heads and their eyes into looking straight ahead. In contrast the hostile part of the audience exchange glances – did you hear it too?

There can be moments like that when reading a news story too. Suddenly a detail leaps out. The reader who is friendly to the subject of the story winces, while the hostile reader cannot wait to click on the comments. For the Oxfam story I think that detail was the prostitutes half-naked except for Oxfam T-shirts. Without that the story was and is a bit meh.

So men far from home use prostitutes? Meh. They call it “the oldest profession” for a reason. Most people, even those with traditional views on sexual morality, would say that is a private matter.

So women in countries stricken by war or disaster turn to prostitution to survive? In that case the power imbalance makes the picture look uglier – but realistically it is inevitable. There was a sweet letter in today’s Times in which the writer suggested that we send the army to administer aid rather than these NGOs. Like the writer, I have a higher opinion of our armed services than I do of our misnamed “non-governmental” organisations, but consider the centuries old connotations of the term “camp follower”. Where soldiers are, there will be women offering to sell them sex.

Every story on this seems to include the line that some of the prostitutes may have been underage. Serious if proven, but so far, not proven. No one has put their name to a definite allegation citing times and places. May have been underage. Meh.

But this is not meh:

Oxfam in Haiti: ‘It was like a Caligula orgy with prostitutes in Oxfam T-shirts’

“The group lived in a guesthouse rented by Oxfam that they called the ‘pink apartments’ — they called it ‘the whorehouse’,” said a source who says he was shown phone footage by one of the residents of the guesthouse.

“They were throwing big parties with prostitutes. These girls were wearing Oxfam T-shirts, running around half-naked, it was a like a full-on Caligula orgy. It was unbelievable. It was crazy. At one party there were at least five girls and two of them had Oxfam white T-shirts on. These men used to talk about holding ‘young meat barbecues’.”

That image has deeply unpleasant associations. There is not even the fig leaf of buying the girl a drink and making a little awkward conversation to make it feel more like an interaction of equals. Black women are labelled as available for white men by brand name packaging. Think how that must rankle in Haiti.

But we’re libertarians, right? (I have used this line before.) Indeed we are. Neither guilty whites in London nor resentful blacks in Port-au-Prince should have a veto on two individuals making a deal. Subject to some provisos about promises made by either party to their spouses, to local laws, and to agreed conditions of employment, that is still my opinion.

However it is not Oxfam’s opinion. Do a search for the word “Oxfam” on this blog. There were a few sensible noises on free trade from this semi-fake charity fifteen years ago, but in recent years Oxfam has grown fat peddling economically illiterate bullshit on the alleged evils of “inequality” and “speculation”. White guilt and black resentment were its stock in trade. Actual trade was something to be taxed, regulated and eternally prefixed with some veto-word like “Fair” or “Ethical” that showed permission had been given by censorious third parties for the transaction to occur.

Live by the sword, die by the sword.

31 comments to The message on those Oxfam T-shirts

  • Patrick Crozier

    It’s the hypocrisy, stupid. (?)

  • What makes them ‘bad’ is not the sex per se (I do not think prostitution should be illegal), but that fact they were flown there and supported with ‘charitable’ funds, much of which was not charitable at all, it was British taxpayers money. And that means *WE* paid for these scumbags & their jolly japes, even if we never willingly gave Oxfam a penny.

    But then perhaps the reason Oxfam supports policies that would reduce trade and cause more poverty is that’s the only way the price of girls in Haiti will stay low.

  • NickM

    “But then perhaps the reason Oxfam supports policies that would reduce trade and cause more poverty is that’s the only way the price of girls in Haiti will stay low.”

    Excellent point Perry. The sort of people who regularly rail against “neo-liberalism” were engaged in a perverted “neo-colonialism”.

    It is vile. I had some solutions involving cable ties and Brevilles and such and such which were too extreme for this site (and scare even me to think on). So instead a truly poetic justice could be for these incredibly highly paid, depraved, con-artistes to suddenly find themselves homeless, broke and unable to exist apart from by selling their bodies in the most sordid and filthy ways.

    Hey, their lovely houses could be used to house the UK homeless. I mean housing the homeless is one of the things Oxfam was suppossed to be about?

  • bobby b

    “But we’re libertarians, right?”

    There’s nothing unlibertarian about expecting people to live up to contractual agreements.

    People give money to charities with the explicit understanding that their money will be used in the aid of the needy. It’s their money, and they’re handing it over to people who promise to act as stewards and direct that money to those who the donors sought to help. Oxfam appears to steal a portion of that money to entice starving teen girls to have sex with them.

    I remember back in elementary school (age 8-12) when we would have various charity drives. We’d all gather our spare dimes and nickels and stuff them through the slot in the top of the can on the teacher’s desk. Now I wonder how much of my money went to support rapists’ fun.

  • Monty

    Even the notion of individual consensual relationships gets a squalid cast when one of the parties is in desperate need of food, blankets, shelter, medicine, and the other has power over the provision of same. In such circumstances, apparent consent should always be questioned, because the scope for corrupt misconduct.
    The aid workers participating in these activities should be investigated by the police.

  • Tomsmith

    It’s the fact that Oxfam lecture us so much about how evil we are and how we should send them money to right this wrong (in addition to the money they steal from us), but then we see that it is actually just a joke to them; they don’t care in the slightest about these people, even in their own warped lefty terms, and in fact are just enjoying the gravy train in the most depraved of ways.

    It is the product of perverse minds to see the job as an opportunity to go on a sex tour of the world. They are laughing at us as they fuck endless poverty stricken young girls using our money. They are mocking the very tale they told to get people and governments to give them that money in the first place.

  • Tomsmith

    I hope this results in the NGO sector (haha) being defunded by the government and having to ask us please for our money. That would go a long way to making them more deserving of it.

  • I hope you are right, but the Chumocracy won’t defund their school and uni mates that easily.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    A happy Valentine’s day to all, and air-flowers and air-chocolates to all our female commentators, whilst it is still legal to make such distinctions.

  • CaptDMO

    Just as long as we all understand that this episode with Oxfam folks is but ONE in many NGO/ GO/ “Charity”
    orgs., known to scavenge the landscape in all SORTS of ways, by “investing” tax, and tax write-off, assets.
    As always, be wary of those folks/”contractors” with an ASTONISHING number of inexplicable “positions, transfers, and awards” on their CV/Resume.
    (Recently)https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-puertorico-meals/fema-contractor-did-not-deliver-millions-of-puerto-rico-meals-lawmakers-idUSKBN1FQ2OP

  • Ferox

    Even the notion of individual consensual relationships gets a squalid cast when one of the parties is in desperate need of food, blankets, shelter, medicine, and the other has power over the provision of same.

    Precisely this. You can be as libertarian as Ayn Rand and still think it morally reprehensible to hold out food and other necessaries in exchange for sex with a person in need. You can believe that prostitution should be perfectly legal and still despise those who use such coercion as a lever in their negotiations with prostitutes.

    Libertarians believe that individuals should be allowed to make their own choices, rather than having the State or the mob make those choices for them. Libertarians are not therefore required to agree with, or support, nor to approve of, all of those choices.

  • Mr Ed

    Oxfam, screwing up the poor since 1944 (or thereabouts).’

    Just trying to help with their rebranding.

    And the UK government will quietly bury this and it will all go back to normal.

  • I have a higher opinion of our armed services than I do of our misnamed “non-governmental” organisations, but consider the centuries old connotations of the term “camp follower”.

    Natalie, I think you would be right to have a higher opinion, not just of the army but also of their ability to monitor the issue, as they have long known that “single men in barracks don’t grow into plaster saints.” You missed out (by just one year) on being in Berlin, where the cadets’ nightly wall&wire duty alternated with the (also nightly) ‘clubs&brothels’ patrol (I was told it alternately amused and embarrassed the regiment whenever the rota included girl cadets on the latter one). I recall a long discussion with a sergeant about how (thanks to the drug scene, it was believed) prostitutes were not in short supply in Berlin in those years, and the ethos that to go within a million miles of underage, or suchlike nastiness, was ‘inexcusable’. As always, officers presented high-minded motivations and non-comms presented practical ones backed up with sanctions – though, as I recall, the officer cadets were certainly being trained to take a practical attitude on the inner tour. 🙂

    Times change, societies evolve (not always for the better) but I would hope our forces still have sufficient discipline and ethos to outperform the very low standard set by Oxfam – and to be a bit more honest about who they were.

  • “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” (said by Rahm Emmanuel, Chief of Staff to President Obama, November 2008 Wall Street Journal Forum)

    Was Oxfam giving new meaning to Rahm’s words – or just demonstrating what he meant?

  • bobby b

    “You can be as libertarian as Ayn Rand and still think it morally reprehensible to hold out food and other necessaries in exchange for sex with a person in need.”

    Especially when the food and other necessaries were donated by other people expressly for the aid of the person in need.

    Without this factor, this still comes close to the old libertarian price-gouging-after-the-hurricane argument. (The earthquake-dispossessed need help, and the promise of easy sex with underage girls attracts lots of help?)

    So, after the earthquake, let’s say a guy with money and generators and freshwater condensers flies down to Haiti to provide aid. He only helps nubile young women, for the obvious exchange.

    Different from a $1000 chainsaw or a $10 bottle of water after an Alabama hurricane?

    This is where libertarian arguments have a hard time taking hold. A truly rational argument can still butt up against conceptions of morality.

  • Eric

    Even the notion of individual consensual relationships gets a squalid cast when one of the parties is in desperate need of food, blankets, shelter, medicine, and the other has power over the provision of same.

    I disagree, unless you’re saying that power somehow includes preventing the seller from selling to others. This is the same argument people have been making for a $15/hr minimum wage in the US. The minimum wage is always zero, and that’s as true for Haitian hookers as it is for fast food workers in Seattle.

    I agree with Perry – what’s objectionable here is charitable donations were accepted ultimately on false pretenses, and the fact that tax money is involved at all.

  • I deplore the use of NGOs in any capacity, a complete waste of our money. ‘Tis a pity Cameron chickened out of scrapping the whole lot as promised, he lied yet again!

  • Paul Marks

    Contrary to Determinists, whether open Determinists such as Thomas Hobbes (who writes of humans as just machines, not beings, for page-after-page-after-page) or disguised Determinists such as David Hume, humans do have (are) Free Will – agency. We can choose NOT to do what our passions are leading us to do, someone who says “reason is, and ought to be, the slave of the passions” is asking for a punch in the face – I know, I know, that is a violation of the Non Aggression Principle…..

    “I wanted to use the girl” is no excuse for actually using the girl – our passions should NOT override our moral reason (our Free Will – agency). As for Oxfam – they are bunch of evil “Social Justice” types, the policies they advocate would make poverty vastly WORSE. Hopefully this scandal will help destroy Oxfam.

  • Paul Marks

    It should also be remembered that the policies that Oxfam advocate are not “just” economically wrong, they are also MORALLY wrong. It is immoral, wicked (evil), to loot people with taxation or to order about private business enterprises in relation to their voluntary transactions. The claim by John Stuart Mill that economic policy and general civil liberties rest on different principles (not that he denied that such things as price controls were mistaken – but he did not place such things under the “general principle of liberty”), is WRONG – fundamentally WRONG.

    As the Common Law used to understand – so called “economic matters” are part of normal life, and if the principle of liberty (which rests, of course, on the existence of Free Will – the moral agent, the “I”) does not apply, for example, to such things as whether someone can practice a trade or profession without a piece of parchment called a permit or license (the case of Doctor Bonham in 1610) then the principle of liberty does not exist at all.

    First the “liberals” abandoned “economic liberty” (following the FALSE distinction Mr Mill had made – although he did not abandon economic liberty himself) and then, in our day, they abandoned such things as Freedom of Speech as well. People who are surprised by this are foolish indeed – as it was obvious that the former would lead to the latter, that was clear even as far back as 1965 (the British Race Relations Act – which effortlessly made the move from telling people who they should trade with and employ, to telling people what they may and may NOT say- controlling SPEECH). “Economic matters” can NOT be kept separate from Civil Liberties – they are, in the end, part of the same thing.

    Ask someone if they support the 1965 Act – if they do support the Act (after it has been explained to them) and then say they support such principles as Freedom of Association and Freedom of Speech, just walk away from them. All of the people in Oxfam would support the 1965 Act – which was NOT passed in response to “centuries of Jim Crow legislation” as no such “Jim Crow legislation” existed in the United Kingdom.

  • Paul Marks

    Of course those who deny they have Free Will (moral agency – the “I”, human personhood) and claim they can not control their animal passions, are likely to hold that other humans are also NOT persons – and thus see, for example, young women as just flesh robots to be used to achieve pleasing sensations. These pleasing feelings, sensations, being what “happiness” means to those who follow the philosophy of such people as Thomas Hobbes and Jeremy Bentham (both of whom denied human personhood – that humans are BEINGS). It was the implications of such thinking that led John Stuart Mill to have doubts about the philosophy he inherited from his father James Mill and family mentor Jeremy Bentham. But, alas, Mr J.S. Mill never really broke with this line of thinking – he just desperately tried to introduce the concept of “lower and higher pleasures”. John Stuart Mill never seems to have fully grasped that what he called the “light of Hume” on the human mind, is really the DARKNESS of David Hume on the human mind – and that it is utterly incompatible with the philosophical assumptions upon which the Western tradition (including the Common Law) is based.

    The German philosopher Kant dismissed the mainstream “Common Sense” philosophy of this island upon which such things as the American Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights is based (Thomas Jefferson and the other Founders being clear that the philosopher of their own time that they admired most was Thomas Reid of the Common Sense School) – but then Kant openly admitted that he had NEVER READ any of the works of Thomas Reid.

    In the end, for all his efforts to take-on-board the work of David Hume (like an early Medievalist Kant normally resisted just rejecting a body of work he had read – it must have insights to be incorporated, even if the body of work was fundamentally wrong) Kant rejected the fallacy of “compatiblism” (upon which the work of David Hume rests) with harsher language than Thomas Reid ever used.

    Full disclosure….

    I am indebted for some of the points in the above comments to the late Professor James McCosh and the late Professor Harold Prichard. James McCosh died long before the creation of Oxfam, the opinion of Harold Prichard on the Oxford Famine relief campaign, I do not know.

    As Professor Prichard pointed out, Ralph Cudworth did a better job of refuting Thomas Hobbes than John Locke did, – a rare example of an Oxford man, Prichard, praising a Cambridge man, Cudworth, over a fellow Oxford man – Locke.

  • Sam Duncan

    “our misnamed ‘non-governmental’ organisations”

    I see the Scottish Executive has promised to investigate the activities of “all NGOs funded by the Scottish Government”. These people don’t really do irony, do they?

    “But we’re libertarians, right?”

    The volunteers who donated their time and money to Oxfam didn’t do so in order that its employees could get their rocks off in Haiti. Indeed, implicit in its exhortations to donate is the idea that there’s a crisis going on and there’s no time to waste.

    The “charity”’s current protestations that it “strongly discouraged” the use of prostitutes but refused to ban it on the grounds of civil liberties won’t wash either. I don’t see that it infringes upon anyone’s rights to say that if you are sent to a country by an organisation to do a particular job, you are an ambassador for that organization and you bloody well behave yourself or you’re out on your ear.

    “But then perhaps the reason Oxfam supports policies that would reduce trade and cause more poverty is that’s the only way the price of girls in Haiti will stay low.”

    And is anyone surprised that an organisation which receives hundreds of millions of pounds from the taxpayer is campaigning against tax havens?

    This must not be allowed to be spun into a sex scandal which can be papered over with firings, investigations, and promises to do better. Oxfam, and all the other not-really-non-governmental organisations, are corrupt to the core. The entire racket needs to be blown apart, and replaced with charity.

  • I agree with Perry – what’s objectionable here is charitable donations were accepted ultimately on false pretenses, and the fact that tax money is involved at all.

    To be honest Eric, although I think they should not be prosecuted for the sexual acts (they should indeed be done for fraud however, and Oxfam should be bulldozed to the ground and the earth it stood on salted), that does not mean I am perfectly ok with what they did.

    However I believe there are many things I personally find despicable that should not be illegal. It does not make them any less despicable, and given that these are supposed to be CHARITY workers (in truth they are nothing of the sort), could they not have just given these girls the tee-shirts and the money after saying “Yeah, life really can suck, I hope it treats you better in the future” rather than “Bend over and call me Big Boy”? They should not be locked up for the sex, but having people spit when they pass would be nice.

  • Alisa

    They should not be locked up for the sex, but having people spit when they pass would be nice.

    Amen.

  • Mr Ed

    I can’t wait to meet an Oxfam chugger.

  • Ferox

    They should not be locked up for the sex, but having people spit when they pass would be nice.

    It would present a pleasing symmetry if we, as a culture (though specifically NOT as a matter of law), required all the Oxfam bastards to perform some degrading sexual act every time they wished to negotiate a trade for goods or services.

    “Yes sir, that hat is for sale … $30 and you will have to shove it up your a$$ in order to purchase it.”

    Justice, of the poetic sort.

  • Mary Contrary

    Monty wrote:

    Even the notion of individual consensual relationships gets a squalid cast when one of the parties is in desperate need of food, blankets, shelter, medicine, and the other has power over the provision of same. In such circumstances, apparent consent should always be questioned, because the scope for corrupt misconduct.

    Ferox added.

    You can believe that prostitution should be perfectly legal and still despise those who use such coercion as a lever in their negotiations with prostitutes.

    […]

    Libertarians believe that individuals should be allowed to make their own choices, rather than having the State or the mob make those choices for them. Libertarians are not therefore required to agree with, or support, nor to approve of, all of those choices.

    I agree.

    My hyper-rational reaction is to disagree with Eric on the applicability of the “minimum wage is always zero” argument to this situation. These Haitians, unlike San Franciscan barristas, were entitled to free support from the Oxfam workers. Why? Because Oxfam’s donors, and the taxpayers, had given their money for that purpose, and the Oxfam workers only had possession of those funds on trust for the benefit of those they exploited, not for their own use.

    But my more emotional, human reaction is simply to despise those that prey on the suffering of others in such a callously exploitative way. What kind of human being would even want to have sex with another on such a basis?

    We have in recent weeks seen a ramping up of Leftist attacks on the concept of consent in sexual relations, on the basis that power corrupts and vitiates consent. It turns out, as usual, that it is an emblematically Leftist cesspool that most clearly demonstrated whereof they spoke. Scumbags.

  • Watchman

    Mary,

    Remember that whenever left-wing commentators speak of sexual relations, their experiences will be with left-wing fellow believers. The ‘could never be friends with a Tory’ mentality means they restrict their social circle to people with the same political views. So what you are getting in these writings is an insight into the sexual relations of the left wing, where it appears men are abusive and unpleasant to their partners due to a sense of entitlement. All of which is encapsulated by the Hollywood eating itself sex scandals around at the moment; left-wing actors and producers are seen to be willing to use their positions to take what they want. Left-wing writers, with their conceptions that those opposed to them must be worse than those allied to them, then ascribe this left-wing elite behaviour to all men. The joy of living in a political bubble being that your frame of reference is limited to those in there with you, and if those in there are the entitled do-gooders of the modern left it’s no wonder you’ll have a weird way of looking at men.

  • Mr Ed

    On the legal side, it is not always a contract that you have with Oxfam. If you give it money, it is on the understanding that it will be used for their purposes. Where it gets sticky is that it could be more a situation of a constructive trust and a charity like Poxscam being regarded, in equity (the bastard father of socialism, but that’s another matter), as holding the money (and proceeds of it) on a constructive trust imposed by Equity (i.e. the judge who hears the eventual case) for the benefit of the intended recipients and purposes, with Poxscam being a trustee for the donors (and this could include the State). Equity then imputes a conscience to the trustee (whomsoever he may be) and unconscionable acts are breaches of trust.

    Now if the whores are paid by out of the salaries of the aid workers, they are using their own funds. But it seems, Oxfam property was used (T-shirts), thereby mis-using charity property, and if a property was rented out for immoral purposes, that is certainly a crime in England, and may be in Haiti, as well as a breach of trust in using charity funds to rent properties for purposes other than those intended. I do wonder what a good RICO prosecutor could do to Oxfam…

    And I read today on the BBC website that the chap under whose watch these allegations arose has said that he’s a bit shocked by the coverage, and it’s not all accurate.

    In an open letter, Roland Van Hauwermeiren, 68, denied that a reception he hosted in Haiti was, as alleged, a sex party.
    He said he had “intimate relations” with a woman in earthquake-stricken Haiti who was “not a prostitute”.

    He said he had never visited a brothel or nightclub in Haiti and audits had “never shown that funds were used to finance excesses or sex parties“.
    Referring to the two staff dismissals, and some other resignations “because of serious suspicions”, he said “reporting in the media is almost correct“.

    I’m not a saint, I’m a man of flesh and blood and have made mistakes (not easy to admit), and I am deeply ashamed,” he said.

    So the audits found, not ‘nothing’ but no ‘excesses’ or ‘sex parties’… Hmmm… Hilary, if this guy needs a job, he’s into the careful denial business, perhaps with your experience of Haiti, you can help?

  • Flubber

    It is remarkable to me the correlation between the biggest virtue signallers and the most heinous deviancy.

    There’s an interesting tweet thread here:

    https://twitter.com/robesonblogs/status/963008274193936384

  • Steve borodin

    Oxfam are baizuo. Always have been.

  • […] Development Movement)” The faltering fortunes of “the Global Justice Now” and similar organizations in what is called the aid “sector” (as if it produced something) distress Mr Dearden […]