Research shows that corruption hinders development and reinforces inequality. Yet anti-corruption efforts generally fail to recognize and address the impact corruption has on women’s lives. When women are confronted with demands for a bribe they cannot afford, they may be pressured to pay with their bodies – what the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) terms “sextortion.” The MeToo movement has created an opportune global moment to raise awareness and assure that international initiatives take full consideration of the interplay between gender and corruption. Transparency International's Marwa Fatafta and IAWJ's Nancy Hendry explore what a gender-inclusive approach to anti-corruption efforts should look like.
BETTINGER-LÓPEZ: OK. Good afternoon, everybody. I think we’re going to get started. So good afternoon. My name is Carrie Bettinger-Lopez. I am a fellow here—a senior adjunct fellow at the Council on Foreign Relation in the Women in Foreign Policy Program. And it is really wonderful to see so many familiar faces, as well as many new ones. And we’re really looking forward to today’s roundtable. We’ve been preparing for months for it. And the day is finally here. So it’s very exciting to be here.
So you’re all here because of, I think, a really kind of innovative and important angle that our panelists today have been focusing on, the issue of sexual extortion as a form of corruption. Not something we hear about in our headlines every day, but something that’s really undergirding a lot of our headlines in our everyday news. And so this roundtable is really meant to examine how corruption not only hinders development and economic growth, but also reinforces gender inequality. And so in our discussion today we’ll address the ways in which women and girls are targeted and impacted by gendered forms of corruption, such as sextortion, which is the term that you’ll hear our panelists talk about that the International Association of Women Judges coined to really capture this phenomenon.
So our participants today will explore gaps in data collection, anticorruption efforts, legal frameworks. And they’ll outline the next steps for a gender-inclusive approach to corruption. Now, of course, we’re having a global #MeToo conversation right now. And this topic falls squarely within that conversation. From Harvey Weinstein to humanitarian aid workers who are using positions of power to demand sexual favors, we’re reading about this issue in the news. But again, the questions about kind of what frameworks we’re seeing it framed in the news, whether we’re seeing an anti-discrimination framework, whether we’re seeing these as anticorruption efforts to hold these men who abuse power to account. Whether we’re speaking about—(background noise)—oh, bless you. Whether we’re speaking about—that’s OK. Whether we’re speaking about impunity, these are—these are some of the foremost questions that we’ll be addressing today. And, again our panelists I think will frame some of these issues from a really innovative and novel direction.
So without further ado, I’d like to introduce our speakers. And what we’ll be doing is having about a 25-minute moderated Q&A with them, where I’ll be asking questions and we’ll be engaging in a conversation with each other. And then we’ll open it up for about twenty-five minutes of questions from the audience. And for those of you who—I’ll remind you of this at the Q&A—but you’ll place your cards like this if you have a question, and I’ll ask you—I’ll call upon you, just like I do in my law professor role normally. (Laughter.) And we really look forward to the conversation.
So, to my immediate left is Marwa Fatafta, who is joining us most immediately from Berlin. Marwa, excuse me, is the regional advisor for the Middle East and North Africa at Transparency International. She does a lot of work on policy analysis and advocacy and political communications and has worked closely with the International Association of Women Judges in a project I’ll discuss in a moment. And Nancy Hendry is a senior advisor to the International Association of Women Judges. And she’s really led IAWJ’s work to address sextortion and has worked with international partners closely on this issue. Together, Marwa and Nancy coordinate the International Association of Women Judges and Transparency Internationals’ joint project, called New Standards of Integrity and Accountability, recognizing corruption’s impact on women. And we’re really looking forward to having the two of you talk more about your work, and your work together. So without further ado, please join me in welcoming Nancy and Marwa. (Applause.)
So we’ll start with a question. We’re going to start big, and funnel down. I call this in my law professor role the T funnel technique. And I want to start with the question of corruption, right, because the word corruption is the word we see in our headlines. We see it in U.N.—United Nations conventions, we see it in discussions all the time about corruption and bribery. So I want to ask Marwa, what constitutes corruption? What impact does corruption have on development, on economic institutions, and on economic growth?
FATAFTA: Is this on? Thank you. Let me start by saying thank you very much for the kind invitation to be here today with you. And I look forward to having a lot of interesting discussions about gender and corruption.
MS. : Can you bring it closer to you, please?
FATAFTA: Can you hear me now?
MR. : Bring the mic closer.
FATAFTA: So it has to be super close. OK, sorry. Yeah. So we define corruption as the abuse of entrusted power and authority for private gain. And corruption takes many forms. One of them is the gendered form of corruption’s extortion, which Nancy will talk about in great detail. But we can classify it generally based on the assets or the amount of money loss in the sector where it occurs into grand corruption, petty corruption, and political corruption. Grand corruption, as the name suggested, happens at the high level of government, where political leaders or decision-makers utilize the central function of the state or the state resources for their private gain, at the expense of—at the expense of the public. Petty corruption happens more at the everyday level by low- to mid-level public officials who abuse their positions to get further whether monetary or sexual or other advantages. And that happens with their interactions with ordinary citizens. So we see it a lot in terms of bribery, nepotism, clientism, in the delivery of basic services and public goods. So schooling, housing, education, obtaining government documents, and so on.
In terms of the impact, it’s a well-established fact that corruption has a devastating effect on the economy of states and on its national development. And that’s, of course, recognized by the mere fact that fighting bribery is part of the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 16, which aims at reducing bribery. When we—when—in the setup where the few who are in leadership positions use the state resources for their advantages, and we know that in states resources are scarce, we’re talking about impoverishing the population at the—and expanding the wealth, status, and power of the political elite. Politically, of course, corruption undermines democracy and rule of law. When public administrations or institutions are being used, or misused actually, for the private gain of public officials, that leads to mistrust in these institutions. And mistrust could lead to political instability.
If we—if we zoom in at the public—or, sorry—if we zoom in into the delivery of basic services, we know at TI, from our work in 100 countries around the world, that when people don’t have access to—or have, actually, to pay a bribe or know somebody in order to have access to a basic service like good schooling, or education, or even water and sanitation, in some countries, and they can’t, while others can because they have the money or they know the right connections, that leads not only to mistrust in these institutions and it undermines the authority of the government, but it also roils the seeds of discontent. And that’s why in a lot of demonstrations and protests, and when people go out in the streets around the world, a lot of the demands are about ending corruption.
In some cases, that could contribute to the rise of extremist groups and furthering political instability. I mean, if we look—we have a clear example when we look at the propaganda campaign of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. They absolutely—one of the biggest pillars of their campaign was an anti-corruption campaign. That they’re here to provide good services to the people in the so-called state that they aspire to make. And while the previous government didn’t look into the needs of the people, they are there to do so. So that obviously reflects to what level corruption contributes to political instability.
And, again, these—the facts are reflected in Transparency International’s annual index on public sector corruption, the Corruption Perceptions Index, which we publish every year. Those that countries that are at the top of the list, which are supposed to be clean countries, are countries like Denmark and New Zealand, for example. These countries are known for their transparent, good institutions. They are peaceful countries. Countries that make it at the very bottom of the list, like Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, these countries that are inflicted with violent conflicts, civil war, and turmoil. And to—and to add to that, the World Bank actually found out that governments that have good governance indicators are 45 percent less likely to be in civil war. So, again, that shows to what level, to what extent corruption can damage and ruin countries politically and also economically.
BETTINGER-LÓPEZ: Thank you so much. That was a great overview.
Nancy, now let’s move into the question of sextortion, sexual extortion. And can you tell us a little bit about how you came up with this term, some examples of it, and who does this most effect?
HENDRY: OK. It’s a great pleasure and honor to be here today, thank you very much, to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart. The IAWJ first focused on this about 10 years ago. We heard stories from our members about abuses that were occurring with seeming impunity. Different parts of the world, different sectors. Border guards in Central America who were demanding sexual favors to allow women who were migrating north to pass the border. Prison guards in Uganda, who were demanding sexual favors to deliver food and medication to prisoners. The sexual favors being demanded from the wives, girlfriends, daughters who had to come and bring these things to the prisons, because the prisons were not capable of providing them on their own. And the judges were concerned that nothing seemed to be done about these kinds of abuses.
And the insight that we had at that time was that these are not isolated bad apples, officials abusing powers in different contexts, different countries, but rather part of a broad pattern of abuse of power for purposes of sexual exploitation. But it was something that didn’t seem to be discussed. And when we looked into it, one of the challenges was figuring out is this sexual exploitation? Is it rape? Is it sexual harassment? Is it corruption? It’s not financial. And on the other side, there appeared to be an almost consensual element to it, albeit under situations of extreme duress.
And we thought the first step in even beginning to address this issue was to give it a name. And the name we chose was sextortion. At the time, that didn’t have another widely accepted meaning and it captured the fact that, unlike other forms of corruption and unlike other forms of gender-based violence, sextortion involves both. And I think we came to believe it may be precisely because it occurs at that intersection that it seemed to be eluding prosecution as either, and generally going unrecognized and unaddressed.
So we gave it a name and identified the key elements, which you see on this slide. Constitutes sextortion needs to be someone with entrusted authority. That’s part of the corruption definition that Marwa just gave. That person has to abuse that authority in exchange for a personal benefit. Again, part of the definition of corruption. There has to be a quid pro quo. That quid pro quo has to have a sexual characteristic. It doesn’t have to be sexual intercourse. It can be a nude photo. But it has to have a sexual characteristic. And this is achieved through the coercive power of authority, no with a knife to your throat or other form of physical violence, as happens in rape for example.
So those are the four elements of sextortion. I could talk for too long about the different examples. Suffice it to say that it is a global problem that takes many forms and touches virtually every sector. Wherever power and vulnerability collide, you have the potential for sextortion. So it’s in the judiciary. In the U.S., a judge in Arkansas was recently sent to jail for trading leniency to young male defendants in exchange for posing for nude photographs. It is in education. In some African countries, they talk about STD, sexually transmitted degrees, because this phenomenon is so pervasive.
It’s in law enforcement. Many of you saw the AP’s investigation into police officers who lost their badges for sexual misconduct. Some significant percentage of those were for officers whom they described as preying on the vulnerability of women and, in some cases, some immigrant men, threatening them with arrest or deportation in exchange for sexual favors. And of course, in the workplace. I mean, quid pro quo sexual harassment would be a classic form of extortion. And in government. Government officials who control access to basic services, such as water, sanitation, electricity, public housing, documentation, this interface between local government and the public is a prime place where corruption occurs. And of course, when women are involved, it often takes the form of a demand for sexual favors.
And what has been striking to me is the universality of women’s experience with this. So in Baltimore, you see headlines about sex for repairs with women in public housing who can’t get the mold eliminated or the heating on the or the electrical wires dealt with, unless they provide sexual favors. And in Zimbabwe, Transparency International documented cases of council officials threatening to evict women from public housing unless they provided sexual favors. And in Israel there are cases of women who are not able to get public housing unless they are willing to grant sexual favors to the local officials in charge of it.
Of course, in international peacekeeping and aid, we have the example of Haitian women who engaged in transactional sex with U.N. peacekeepers to get relief supplies, like food and medicine. And in Syria, the U.N. Population Fund found that humanitarian assistance was being exchanged for sex. And in fact, the problem was sufficiently pervasive that you had women who were refusing to go to distribution centers, because they feared that people would believe they had had to provide sex in order to receive the aid that they got.
So who does it affect? It has a disproportionate impact on women, but as the Arkansas case illustrates men can also be victims. The key really is vulnerability. So those who have fewer alternatives, whether because of poverty, lack of education, lack of political power, immigration status, or other marginalizing factors, are all likely to be more effected by sextortion. But as the #MeToo movement illustrates, no one is immune. You can be extraordinarily talented, well-educated, and on the path to success. And if there someone, like a Harvey Weinstein, who stands between you and the next step in that process, you may be vulnerable to a sextortion demand.
BETTINGER-LÓPEZ: Thank you, Nancy. You all have really captured so much in a short period of time. Thank you.
Marwa, why don’t we move on to talking about kind of the human rights agenda. We were just speaking prior to this roundtable about how often—how often, or lack thereof, the word corruption is kind of used in the human rights discourse, and vice versa, in anticorruption discourses how rarely we see references to human rights, and when we do what that means. So could you talk to us just a little bit about kind of where the human rights agenda and the anticorruption agenda do overlap or should overlap, in your opinion? Where are there tensions? And can you talk to us a little bit about the tensions and how you might seek to resolve them?
FATAFTA: OK. So the impact of corruption on human rights, and the realization of human rights, are well-recognized. It is often—behind every act of corruption, there is a violation of a human right of some sort. And that could be direct, like bribing a judge in order not to have a free trial. It can also be indirect, by those who can bribe certain doctors to get medical services, deny the right of those who can’t of having access to the same medical services. And so we all know that corruption impacts human rights, civil rights, political rights, even to the point of collective rights such as the right to development and self-determination.
And while there is that recognition, what you refer to—what you refer to as tension is basically that the human rights movement and the anticorruption movement, they have been working on the same issues but from different angles, in parallel to each other but not together. And actually, interestingly, if you look at the language in itself, the language that we as an anticorruption community use and what the human rights community uses, it’s two faces of the same coin. So what we refer to—so the anticorruption community works on ensuring that the policies are not distorted, that there is an independent judiciary, that there is equal access to public services, that there are transparent public institutions, while on the other hand the human rights agenda it works on the realization of these rights.
And so when we talk about having—about improving the provision of basic services, the human rights call it equality and nondiscrimination. When we talk about having an independent or free—having a free, independent judiciary and (refrain ?) the kind of political corruption, we’re talking on the human rights side about the realization of political and civil rights. And so—and that, again, reflects of how these two movements are, again, addressing the same issues, but kind of separately.
Now, as I—as I mentioned in our conversation, of course there is an understanding of that impact. But when it comes to working on the issue at the local level—and, again, that we know from our experiences because day in and day out in documented cases of corruptions that come to our legal centers, it impacts people’s lives. And that’s what Nancy, with all these horrendous examples, show again what’s at stake there. The Human Rights Council last year passed a resolution recognizing the impact of corruption on human rights, and asked—or asked, basically, anticorruption commission and agencies to cooperate with national human rights institutions to exchange knowledge, to cooperate on that level. It also encouraged the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights—for Human Rights, and the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crimes to also cooperate on these issues.
Yesterday there was—as part of the—or, as a result of that resolution, an expert working group meeting between these two U.N. bodies to discuss how these two movements can converge. But the status quo is that at least from an anticorruption angle, the human rights mechanisms that are existing, they’re being underused, let’s say, by the anticorruption community. And that’s because often—I mean, traditionally corruption has been not framed as a human rights issue, but as an obstacle to human rights, as an obstacle to economics and social development. And that’s—and that contributes to why these two movements are still not converging, these efforts.
And I think, in my opinion, there’s a lot of potential for these two movements to come together, especially at this current time where there is an aggressive crackdown on political and civil rights, and human rights, around the world, where civil society space is becoming super, super tight. By every measure and index out there, we know that our rights—especially rights to freedom of—I mean, freedom to—freedom of expression, freedom of association, these rights are being under attack right now, media freedoms. And from an anticorruption agenda, we know that it’s whatever anticorruption policy or strategy out there, it’s not possible to realize and to implement that strategy in an environment where human rights are being violated and being oppressed.
And at the same time, we know, as the examples that Nancy gave and also when I discussed how corruption affects the economy and the politics of certain countries, we know that we can’t realize human rights without eradicating corruption. So these two agendas, they very much need each other. And therefore, I think there’s a lot of room to build bridges, and to use every treaty and mechanism that is out there to fight these two issues together.
BETTINGER-LÓPEZ: Thanks. So speaking of treaties and mechanisms, let’s turn to the international space for a moment in terms of the United Nations. And I’d like to pose the question to both of you—and perhaps then we’ll wrap up and turn it over to Q&A—if you could talk a little bit about the work of your respective organizations at the United Nations and with kind of multilateral institutions. So, for example, Nancy, if you could talk a little bit about the International Association of Women Judges’ efforts to include sextortion and sextual harassment in the United Nations Office of Drug and Crimes Global Judicial Integrity Network.
HENDRY: Thank you. This has been a recent opportunity, and one we’re very excited about. The UNODC has launched a Global Judicial Integrity Network. There were a series of preparatory meetings leading up to the launch. The launch was in April of this year in Vienna. The past president—immediate past president of the IAWJ participated in at least one of those preparatory meetings and was able to talk about sextortion with the staff who are working on this issue. We submitted a proposal for the launch meeting, which was accepted. And so we were able to present a panel on sextortion at the launch, which actually they featured and gave a fair amount of visibility to.
As part of the launch proceedings, there was a final declaration adopted by the participants. The participants were drawn—invitees included, you know, chief justices from judiciaries around the world, a number of other U.N. representatives from countries, some civil society. And IAWJ proposed language for the declaration that specifically referenced the importance of including gender, specifically sextortion and sexual harassment, in judicial training on modes of conduct and judicial integrity.
So unlike other international instruments, that do not specifically use this term or mention gender in connection with an issue like integrity and corruption, this actually does. And that is tremendous exciting. It opens the way now that one of the next tasks of the network will be to produce online, and I think eventually other forms of training materials, and to see that those training materials that will be available globally include this concept. And it is—it was interesting. At the launch event, I spoke with a person who had been working on the training materials. And I, of course, raised the issue of sextortion. And he said, you know, that’s interesting, because we have an example that includes a huge hamper of goodies as a bribe, but it just never occurred to use to include an example that had sexual favors. So now our hope is that it will occur to them, and that this will make a difference in the way that judiciaries around the world see ethnical obligations and see the gendered impact of corruption.
BETTINGER-LÓPEZ: Maybe in a future—during the Q&A you can show us the Malaysians—the slide from Malaysia.
HENDRY: Oh, I would love to, yeah.
BETTINGER-LÓPEZ: Which really captures that as well. You all see it in a minute, but kind of people’s notions of what corruption constitutions, not what we’re talking about at this roundtable.
So, Marwa, along those lines also, could you tell us about Transparency International’s efforts to make gender a part of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption agenda? I will mention that, you know, in preparing for this, we all took, like myself, a first look, and probably for you all, like, a hundredth look at the UNCAC, the U.N. Convention Against Corruption. And, well, Marwa can tell you about how many times it mentions the words sex or sexual extortion, or anything related to the topic of today’s conversation. (Laughter.)
FATAFTA: The word count is zero, unfortunately. (Laughter.) So as part of the project that we have in partnership with IAWJ, tacking sextortion in Morocco, I was there leading a delegation to—one delegation from Morocco, and other chapters of TI from the region to the COSP, which is the conference on state party members, of the convention that took place last year in November in Vienna. That was my actually first participation in that—in that conference, to see it, and to understand how states interact around the convention provisions.
Now, of course, the convention—I mean, the UNCAC agreement itself, it does not mention gender. And it is very much—has an economic lens over the provisions. It talks about reducing bribery, or fighting bribery, corruption in the public sector, money laundering, asset recovery. It encourages technical cooperation and exchange between different state members of the convention. However, it does not reflect the human rights and the gender part of the corruption problem.
What we tried to do back then in November with Transparency Morocco, that’s the national partner of TI in the country, and also the implementing partner of the project that we have in Morocco. We tried to talk to the Moroccan official delegation there in order to influence or maybe to see if they can sponsor resolution on incorporating gender into the UNCAC agreement. Now, that’s work in progress. And we know that there will be another COSP meeting in 2019, so next year, in the UAE. That would be another opportunity for us to advocate for including gender as part of the agreement.
I mean, looking at the bribery aspect of that convention, it doesn’t specify—it’s not very much in monetary terms. It just—it uses the word “advantages.” However, we know from experience that when you have that word “advantages,” often sextortion or sexual favors are not a part of that interpretation. And therefore, we think it’s very important to include it where we can in order to fight sextortion.
BETTINGER-LÓPEZ: Thank you. I think we’re going to turn it over to all of you now. So if you have any questions, please place your name cards. Great. OK, so I’ll go around the room and clockwise. So go ahead. Yes.
Q: Thank you very much. Perhaps an obvious point given the gender distribution in this room, it does seem to me that an effective coalition, including men, is pretty important in addressing solving whatever you want to call it, this problem. So I wonder what your thoughts are about that, and what success you’ve had in bringing men into the discussion. And the second point, what about the—I have a daughter and a wife, both of whom are significant professionals. And talk to me about the innuendos, the sexual hints, the things that don’t result in an actual exchange, but which are, nonetheless, a power relation of a man and a woman. To what extent is this a fight against that? And to what extent are they related? I’d enjoy your comments.
HENDRY: Well, definitely men need to be a part of this. And one of the things, frankly, that appeals to me about looking at this through a gender—through a corruption lens, rather than through a gender-based violence lens, is that there are people who may not be as passionate about gender equality as they are about transparent, accountable governance. And the fact is, when you have an official who is charged with making decisions in accordance with the rule of law and based on merit and certain rules and regulations, and instead that person makes the decision based on personal benefit, it does not matter whether that benefit is cash or whether it is a sexual favor. The damage that is done to a society that seeks to operate in accordance with the rule of law, and with integrity, is just the same. And people should care about that and want to see it addressed.
And because of all of the shame and stigma associated with sexual offenses, one of the challenges is that this tends to be—think of it as a problem hidden in plain sight. You know, when you talk about it everyone says, oh, yes, of course that does happen. But women are very reluctant to come forward. And I think that’s been one of the lessons of the #MeToo movement, is just how hard it is. How hard it is to—when you have inadequate laws and complaint mechanisms, when you have often an enabling environment of people who suspect something is going on but don’t say anything, and the result is this relative impunity.
So I think looking at it as a form of corruption is very helpful. It would never occur to you to say that someone isn’t guilty of an abuse of power or corruption because a person paid the bribe willingly and the official accepted it. And yet, when you look at the analysis under a gender-based violence offense, whether you have rules that recognize nonphysical forms of coercion or not, you still end up with people saying, oh, but didn’t she get something in exchange? Didn’t she benefit? Wasn’t it really consensual? Didn’t she maybe desire this? All of that is meaning—I mean, would be senseless in an anticorruption context.
I also think that—we have had some success in interesting men in this topic. In fact, our in-country project coordinator in Morocco is a male who has become every bit as passionate as I am about this, and has had some success working with other civil society organizations and ministries in Morocco to try to get it on their agenda. The flipside of that is at an international anticorruption conference, I had someone who had been, I think, a founder of EI say, oh, sextortion. Oh, political correctness.
Which, of course, outraged me because this is not about political correctness. I mean, you think about it. Half the world’s population is female. And here you have a phenomenon that is systematically depriving women of economic opportunity, education, political voice, every single domain. And yet, we have come to accept that empowering women, educating them, giving them a set at the table is one of the keys to achieving our international goals of prosperity, of democratic governance, of peace and security in the world. And this is systematically undermining it. And everyone should care deeply about doing something to address it.
With respect to the question about other forms of harassment, to be useful as a term sextortion can’t encompass everything. When we first started working on this, our members in Tanzania, who were our partners in the original project—and have continued to do a lot of excellent work on this issue, in part with U.N. Women’s support—wanted to include domestic violence, female genital mutilation, all forms of discrimination and sexual abuse of women. And we had to back away. And that was how we came up with the definition, in fact. To say, no, when we’re talking about sextortion, what are we talking about? We want it to communicate something that is very clear.
There is some overlap between sextortion and sexual harassment. But in the U.S., for example, hostile environment sexual harassment, which would include the kinds of things you were describing, would not be sextortion because there is not the quid pro quo. It is not corrupt. It may occur from coworkers who don’t hold any position of entrusted authority or any power—I mean, that’s not always the case—but they’re not the supervisor. Clearly, the quid pro quo sexual harassment, yes. But the other forms are something—are something else.
And if we could get people to recognize at least this one form of corruption—one gendered form of corruption—which, to me, is—there’s a spectrum. And wherever the gray areas may lie in sexual relations, there is a bright line. Someone entrusted with authority should not be abusing that authority in exchange for personal favor, period, whether it’s a judge, a police officer, a teacher, or a government official. And that’s the line that sextortion tries to draw.
FATAFTA: I think Nancy said it all.
Q: Hi. My name is Nina Schwalbe and I work in the area of public health.
And kind of came through this issue in education around the effect it was having on HIV transmission in some countries. And I was working for UNICEF and was surprised at the level of complacency around this issue in education in schools. And what you said about it being systemic, systematic, and hidden. The answer UNICEF gives to why it’s OK to not take this up as an issue in schools is it’s about the judicial system. And until in a country you can get the judicial system working and get the teachers prosecuted and some form of accountability, there’s really nothing you can do. Could you respond to UNICEF, please?
HENDRY: Well, I, you know, share your—(laughter)—outrage at the way in which, you know, people who work in areas where they would share these values of protecting women and girls can be so indifferent to this kind of harm. And I’ve heard other stories of, you know, aid workers picking up girls along the side of the road after school. And there they are to deliver aid, to help alleviate suffering. It’s quite—it’s quite striking. You know, there are many aspects to this.
And of course, one reason why women are reluctant to report sextortion and other forms of sexual abuse is the belief that doing so will not serve any good purpose, that they go to the police station, the police may not be sympathetic, they will encounter a lot of administrative obstacles, and that if they eventually have a complaint that makes it into the court system that, again, the judges may not be sympathetic, and they won’t receive any redress, any justice. And in the meantime, they have perhaps brought a certain amount of shame upon themselves and their family by being public about these allegations. So that is a huge problem in tackling this issue.
Q: But we do have survey data that shows—we have survey data that shows it’s systemic—(this is ?) systemic. So how do you get past that individual—we have survey data.
HENDRY: We do have survey data. And especially in Africa, in the education arena, there is a lot of evidence that shows a high percentage of girls who are subjected to this. I guess I was trying to address the issue of the judiciary. And obviously as an association that works with women judges, that is one of our focuses. And as part of the projects we have done, there have been seminars for people in the justice sector to try to educate them about this and make them more gender-sensitive, more aware of these issues, more aware of how they can apply existing legal frameworks to address them. At the end of the day, we may need some changes in some of the legal frameworks. It may be that there are not always effective remedies in every country for this.
The issue of—you also—you still have to get people to come forward to lodge complaints. And as the #MeToo movement has shown, unless you have a critical mass of people, what happens to a woman or a girl can be extraordinarily damaging. And we don’t have compete answers for that. We have to have safe, confidential reporting mechanisms. Transparency International works on trying to do that. But you also have to have—there are challenges with proof. I know people have been looking at technology as a possible way of dealing with some of these issues, creating—there are applications. Not In My Country has worked on one in the educational context, where people can report this and they can gather information and keep it confidential until there is a critical mass, so that if one person might not be believed perhaps a dozen would be.
They haven’t yet sorted through how to deal with all of that, how to both—at what point, you know, you would have authority to make it public, how you would finance the litigation, what the results would be. But that has been part of their intent, is to find some way of collecting this information and putting people in a better position to vindicate their rights.
FATAFTA: Yeah. One thing to add to Nancy’s point is—I mean, fixing the judiciary is one aspect. But the other important aspect is to raise awareness about corruption and sextortion, and to empower people to speak up and to report on these crimes when they happen and provide legal assistance and channel these complaints until they seek redress and they seek—and they—and they get justice. I mean, from TI’s experience and the work we do, of course we look at fixing the judiciary, or at least calling for an independent judiciary, having anticorruption legislations in place, such as with protection of whistleblowers, access to information, conflict of interest, antibribery laws, and so on and so forth. But these laws remain on paper if you don’t have a population that is empowered to hold those corrupt officials to account.
And so that piece of the puzzle is missing. And it’s very important in the fight against corruption. It’s—I mean, one hand doesn’t clap. So on the one hand, the state needs to be ready in having strong institutions that are able to address corruption in all of its forms. You need also a population that is able to participate and to report on corruption, whether as victims or as witnesses. And that’s what we do in our advocacy and legal centers around the world, where we ask—and we do a lot of campaigns including mobile caravans and reaching out to vulnerable communities to make them aware about their rights and what they should do.
And then, of course, you run into this vicious circle that if they are indeed courageous enough to report on corruption against a certain public official or some corrupt individual, and the judiciary is not—is not able to give justice to those who are affected, then these people lose trust in the judiciary, they lose trust in the state, and they develop political apathy, which, again, is a challenge to fighting against corruption. So it’s a—it can be a vicious circle. But I think both aspects are extremely important, and they complement each other.
BETTINGER-LÓPEZ: All right. Two things. I’ll just mention also I was recently on a panel, and I think one of the imperatives of the #MeToo moment really is for everybody in our respective fields to kind of dream big and think about, OK, if we’re having a larger collective voice, if we’re—if this issue is actually making headlines and seeping its way into circles that it normally was not present, if we wanted to dream big what would it look like if there was increased reporting. How would it affect a policy change in the public health sector, in the judicial sector, the fill-in-the-blank sector? And so kind of really thinking big about what a larger voice might mean for larger data collection, which—and then what that might mean for kind of real policy implications.
We have about—a little less than 10 minutes at this point and several people in the queue. So I’m going to ask folks if we just kind of be brief with our questions and answers, so that we can reach as many people as possible. Thanks.
Q: Thank you. I’ll be very brief. Jessica Neuwirth.
I was wondering about sextortion in the United Nations itself, and whether you think the appointment of a victim rights—victims’ rights advocate last year has had any impact.
FATAFTA: Sorry. I didn’t hear the question very clearly.
Q: I was asking about inside the United Nations itself, a program for prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, and the allegations of food for sex or other abuses of authority within the United Nations in various agencies, and the appointment last year by the secretary-general of a victims’ rights advocate to help promote justice within the system, whether you’ve been following that and if you have any thoughts about whether it’s been helpful.
HENDRY: I haven’t been following it closely enough to have a view about how effective that has been. I do know it has been a huge problem in the U.N., in, you know, reading some of the reports about what has happened with the Syrian refugees. Certainly people have been critical that the U.S. has known about this for seven years and nothing was done.
The example I cited in Haiti is not the only example with U.N. peacekeepers. It clearly is an issue that needs to be addressed, and I’m glad to see that the U.N. is taking steps to address it, but I have not followed up to see how effective those steps have been.
FATAFTA: Yes, similarly, I haven’t been following up very closely, but I know—and we’ve all heard—about so many allegations and reports about sexual exploitation, and sextortion in countries like Syria, Haiti, Congo, and so on and so forth.
I mean, the appointment of an official to address these issues is an important step. Following up on the commitments is something that we look forward to, I mean, to clear up corruption with the U.N. system as well.
Q: Hi, I’m Craig Charney of Charney Research.
We’ve done a lot of work both on corruption and on sexual harassment and gender violence, but always separately, so I was intrigued by the idea of considering them together. And obviously sextortion, by definition, involves corruption as well. To what extent does the reverse seem to be true? In other words, do you have corruption without sextortion or do they tend to be pretty strongly correlated?
FATAFTA: So you question whether there can be corruption without sextortion?
Q: Well, not conceptually, but in practice—sorry—in practice whether they tend to be correlated.
FATAFTA: So, I mean, the answer is of course corruption can—I mean, you can ask a woman to give a monetary bribe, but when you look at it—when you look at it in a context of gender inequality—so to give a clear example, when we talk about having access to water, or interacting with public officials, and because women are already at a disadvantage in certain contexts where they are not able to provide a monetary bribe, sometimes that can translate into a sexual bribe.
We have seen that—there were some examples relating to the refugee crisis in 2015 where a number of women who wanted to smuggle to the borders through Turkey and then to Europe—because they couldn’t pay, because they didn’t have money, they were asked for sexual bribes. I mean, corruption can occur at all levels, in all sectors, and it involves both genders—or all genders, to be more politically correct—but it can also take a sexual form. So I don’t know if I am addressing your question correctly but, in my understanding, that of course corruption can stand—as in money corruption or other advantages other than sexual favors.
HENDRY: One thought I would add. I do think sometimes about to what extent these things are fungible. Clearly there are situations where they are. You find a case where an immigration officer is offering protection to undocumented immigrants, and he is taking money from the men and sexual favors from the women—same protection, same everything except the gender and the currency of the bribe.
On the other hand, you come across cases like the immigration adjudicator in Canada who offers a favorable decision on an application for refugee status and it—if they can do something on the side and she can keep it secret. I don’t know this immigration adjudicator, but I find it entirely plausible that this man would never consider asking for money in exchange for a favorable decision and that there is something about the way in which we view money and sex—very differently—and men—because it is still mostly men who do this, who demand sexual favors—do it without thinking it is corrupt, whether they think it is an entitlement of their position, whether they are deluded about the woman’s interest in this—I don’t pretend to have any insight into that.
But I do think there are these two categories where, in one, yes, it’s just—it’s corruption, and it’s a different form of currency, and in another, people are seeing the sexual abuse differently than they see the corruption.
Q: Thanks, those are very good answers.
BETTINGER-LÓPEZ: In the interest of time and trying to capture as many voices as possible, I’m going to ask folks if they could ask their questions, and then we’ll let the panelists respond as best as possible, keeping in mind that we have, according to that clock, two minutes, but we’ll extend a couple of minutes over.
Q: Thank you, first, for very stimulating presentations. There are a lot of powerful people around this table, and you haven’t asked anyone to do anything yet, and how can we sit here without taking home something to do.
So what can civil society do to get UNCAC—U-N-C-A-C—to adopt gender in its mandate? The issue of civil society and the U.N. is a huge issue. They hate us basically. But I think that if enough people got up and decided to protest collectively, it might do something.
I was wondering also if Transparency International keeps a list of corrupt countries, and where would the U.S. be on that list. (Laughter.) I’m curious.
FATAFTA: We do have that list—
Q: I know the answer, by the way. (Laughter.)
FATAFTA: —(laughs)—we do have that list, and the U.S. is still considered to be a clean country.
MS: : Damn! (Laughter.)
FATAFTA: But we wait for a few years. I mean—I’m making a joke.
For the UNCAC, I do agree that civil society has a very small space, and I personally witnessed that when I was at the UNCAC meeting in Vienna. There is very little room for—at least at that conference, to influence delegations, official delegations, and there is a different dynamic, of course, between the delegations. There are different economic national interests at play, different governments attacking each other, taking their own geopolitics into the table. So they are there with different interests, so to speak.
And for our civil society, we’re there to monitor—to monitor the implementation of their obligations as part of that convention, and we’re there also to speak up and to—as part of these side events, to address issues. And I think that we need to use the coalition because obviously there is a civil society coalition attached to the UNCAC. As part of that coalition still—gender is not—is not a prominent issue on their agenda, so I think there is a lot of conversation and discussion to happen among civil society first to, A, put sextortion as part of our language already—mainstream sextortion and other as a gendered form of corruption.
I must admit that we still—as an anti-corruption community, we’re still guilty of not mainstreaming gender in our language, in our programs, in our initiatives around the world and, I mean, Transparency International is taking a step in that direction. I think there needs to be more collaboration and cooperation on that front.
So going back to—going back to the conversation and what’s going to happen for next year, I think that’s one thing that I am definitely pushing internally at TI, and also to explore within the coalition whether we—or what we can do. Maybe we can have a session there on sextortion as part of the UNCAC side events. But, yeah, thanks a lot for bringing that up. I think there is room for more effort on that front.
BETTINGER-LÓPEZ: OK, Nancy, is there anything you want to say very specifically on action steps?
HENDRY: Let’s just hear the remaining questions—
BETTINGER-LÓPEZ: OK. OK.
HENDRY: —because I know people are going to leave, and I wanted—
BETTINGER-LÓPEZ: Right, so—
HENDRY: —to be sure that we have a chance to—
BETTINGER-LÓPEZ: —I have three people in the queue right now, so go ahead.
Q: Mine is very quick. It is the #MeToo movement in the title, and we haven’t talked, heard anything about any—whether there is an increase in reports, and if so, is your—are any of you doing much to protect women who are coming forth—not celebrities, but women in much more vulnerable situations?
BETTINGER-LÓPEZ: Thank you. Lynn?
Q: Oh, Lynn Schafran from Legal Momentum.
There is a model for aggregating this information so that if people want to report confidentially and then only go public if there is a critical mass, there is an organization called Callisto, which has developed this model for the United States where it’s specifically focused on campuses, but it’s beginning to spread to a more communitywide model.
You can make a report on the web to Callisto. You can indicate that you want to know if someone else makes a report naming this individual as the offender, and then, if you find out that in point of fact there are two or three other women or men who are having a problem with X, you can decide collectively if you want to go public with this.
Now, obviously, this poses some very interesting challenges in terms of the many countries that you are interested in and really making people feel secure that this information will be held confidentially and so on, but it’s worth exploring.
BETTINGER-LÓPEZ: Thank you. (Pause.) And just to finish up with Sophie.
Q: Hi. I’m Sophie Krasik, and I am part of a group of young women that’s organizing a strategy to launch a decentralized social movement to win structural changes to how sexual assault is dealt with in the United States.
And one issue that has been raised in the #MeToo movement and in the campus movement that I was a part of a few years ago is what do we actually do with all of these men. It’s not like we can just banish them all to an island, like, we can’t actually jail, or expel, or fire our way out of this problem, so what are we actually going to do to intervene in these cycles of violence and not only rely on reporting as being the be-all, end-all way that we’re going to change our culture?
MS. : Get rid of Donald Trump. (Laughter.)
Q: Yeah, so I guess like to what extent are your organizations thinking about alternative models for justice and healing that are actually designed to break cycles of violence?
HENDRY: So just a few concluding thoughts. One, I have a few copies of a tool kit that we prepared. It’s also on our website for anyone who is particularly interested. And I would note we worked with Thomson Reuters on a combatting sextortion report that looks at the legal frameworks in nine different jurisdictions to see how adequate they are.
To me, there are many, many things we could ask people to do, but the biggest challenge is just making it part of the framework of how we think about these issues, and this is one of my favorite examples. At the IACC in Malaysia, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission distributed this public education brochure, and you look at it and think if you were a woman who had just experienced a sextortion demand, what in this definition of forms of bribe would lead you to believe that you had any legal recourse, that what had happened to you was a form of bribery, that this was a form of corruption. If you look at it—money, bonuses, positions, discounts, services, votes, wages and gifts—and that is how we consistently think about corruption, and that is why it’s so important to try to get this to change.
My other favorite example of how we’re just blinded to this issue, and it doesn’t even make its way into any of our strategies, any of our conversation, is two World Bank studies. They thought that corruption might have a gender-adverse impact, and so they asked male and female entrepreneurs whether they had been asked to pay bribes. Well, they asked whether they had been asked to pay bribes, and because they concluded that men and women were paying bribes in roughly equal proportion, they saw no adverse gender impact.
Another economist asked instead about whether people had frequently heard of sexual favors being raised for the same kinds of business licenses, permits, and as you can see, she got shares of 15 to 30 percent. She asked a different question; got a different answer. The first group of economists literally did not see the problem, and I think that’s why I’m so passionate about, yes, we have to talk about it, we have to get UNCAC, we have to get the Global Judicial Integrity Network, we have to get the U.N. Human Rights Commission—we have to get the international anti-corruption community and the international women’s rights communities to work together on this issue that implicates the agendas of both.
BETTINGER-LÓPEZ: So I have violated a cardinal CFR rule, which is ending—starting and ending on time. We started on time, but—I’m going to let Marwa have one minute of last remarks on #MeToo, and then we will conclude and have side conversations afterwards.
FATAFTA: Yes, so on the #MeToo movement, something we—I personally noticed in the Arab world, where I come from, once that campaign kicked in, that all of my friends and other women started sharing on social media, and on Facebook, also the #MeToo hashtag. And personally I couldn’t describe the feeling of when someone speaks up how much it empowers me also to speak up and to say, yes, I was also sexually harassed.
And in the context of our project, there were Moroccan actresses who also came out and said we were also sexually harassed and we were also asked for sexual favors by directors, by producers, in order to have certain roles, or in order to be in certain places. And these women being out in the media and talking with full power and without any shame about the issue I think is very, very important, and it encourages other women.
I know that, of course, if you are an actress, you enjoy more attention and—public attention, and that can give you a bit of protection, maybe, in some cases; in some other cases more bad attention, so to speak. However, it is very important for these women who are out there who do have that attention already and the spotlight to use their position in order to put the spotlight on these issues.
Now with other women, one very important aspect of reporting on sextortion or on corruption in general is that you need to protect the reporters of corruption, and so to protect their privacy, to protect their identity also so when—in these centers that we have, as we work on ensuring the confidentiality of the information submitted in a lot of cases. And that’s what Transparency International works on in terms of national legislations, is to ensure that, for example, with whistle-blower protection laws, that the identity of the person coming forward should always be protected because, unfortunately, we do live in a world where people who speak up can have—I mean, can be harmed in the process, or can be punished.
So it is very important, and we’re still at the—it’s a continuous effort to empower women to speak up and give them the courage, and the help, and the support—social support, legal support that they need to come forward. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case but, I mean, we continue with our efforts in trying to give women the right tools to seek justice.
HENDRY: You are doing a lot, so thank you very much.
BETTINGER-LÓPEZ: Please join me in thanking and recognizing Nancy and Marwa. (Applause.)
We’ll be outside if folks have additional questions.
This is an uncorrected transcript.