Aid worker raped girl, 16

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An aid worker on a Scottish Government funded project in Malawi was dismissed and reported to the police for raping a 16-year-old Malawian girl.

Tearfund, a Christian charity that works in over 50 of the poorest countries across the world, revealed details of the incident after the Scottish Government contacted organisations it works with in the wake of the Oxfam abuse allegations.

Rape MalawiAn incident report stated that a “senior staff member” of a partner organisation working with Tearfund had “sexually abused a 16-year-old girl who attended the project”.

The incident happened in 2009 on a project that was part-funded with cash from the Scottish Government.

Tearfund stressed it had taken “swift and appropriate action” to help the teenager when it learned of the abuse.

The charity also stressed it had ceased working with the partner organisation involved in 2010.

Scottish International Development Minister Alasdair Allan wrote to charities receiving public funds after claims were made about the behaviour of Oxfam staff working in Haiti.

Allan has since met with Tearfund bosses to “discuss their response to this incident”, a Scottish Government spokesman confirmed.

The spokesman added: “We have made it clear it is essential that any partner organisation inform us where allegations of abuse are reported on projects we fund.”

A spokeswoman for Tearfund said the organisation was “deeply saddened by the incident of abuse that took place in a project in Malawi in July 2009”.

She stated: “The project was run by a partner organisation Tearfund and was partially funded by a grant from the Scottish Government.

“The incident involved an employee of the partner organisation who abused someone within that organisation’s care. When a Tearfund staff member in Malawi was notified of the allegation of abuse, even though the allegation did not involve a Tearfund staff member, we ensured the safeguarding procedures we had at the time were followed. A Tearfund Child Protection Officer also intervened to ensure that swift and appropriate action was taken.

“This included providing care for the individual who was harmed, and the partner organisation launching an investigation. The individual was provided counselling and moved away from the project.

“The incident was reported to the Malawi police, and the partner organisation dismissed their staff member. Tearfund ceased working with this partner organisation in 2010.”

She stated: “We are committed to the safeguarding and protection of everyone Tearfund works with, including the individuals we support, partner organisations, volunteers and staff.”

It is not known if the individual reported to the police faced any further action.

The Scottish Government spokesman said: “The vast majority of those working in international development and humanitarian emergencies do so in a diligent and appropriate manner.

“However we are deeply concerned about any reports of serious misconduct within the sector and we will not tolerate any form of human rights abuses or misconduct, wherever they take place.

“We expect all partner organisations to monitor their work closely, and to be open, honest and transparent, especially on projects funded by the public sector. We have written to all international NGOs we fund to seek their assurances that they have sufficient safeguarding policies in place to protect vulnerable groups. We have also sought assurances that they have, where necessary, reported any allegations of sexual or other abuse to the relevant authorities.

“This process brought a report of an incident on a Scottish Government part-funded Tearfund project to our attention for the first time.”

He said the Scottish Goverment would “continue to work with partner organisations that demonstrate they have safeguarding policies in place to protect vulnerable groups”.

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