Françoise Duroch

Sexual abuse perpetrated by humanitarian workers: from moral relativism to competitive victimhood

Drawing on the example of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Françoise Duroch and Emmanuel Noyer review the measures taken by the non-governmental organisation (NGO) to combat sexual violence. The authors show the moral relativism that runs through humanitarian organisations concerned with preserving their public image. Admittedly, the latter are increasingly aware of their obligation to monitor the behaviour of their employees, but the systems need to tackle inequalities, especially gender-based ones.

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Should we discriminate in order to act? Profiling: a necessary but debated practice

In October 2020, MSF organised a workshop in Dakar on staff profiling in operations in the Sahel. Profiling involves the selection of staff based on non-professional criteria, including nationality, skin colour, gender and religion. As such, it raises a number of ethical and practical concerns. As a result of profiling, US nationals have not been deployed in MSF operations in Colombia because of the risk of kidnapping, and Chadians and Rwandans have been excluded in the Central African Republic and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo respectively, because of regional conflicts.

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Care for victims of sexual violence, an organization pushed to its limits: The case of Médecins Sans Frontières

Over the past ten years, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has provided medical care to almost 118,000 victims of sexual violence. Integrating related care into MSF general assistance to populations affected by crisis and conflicts has presented a considerable institutional struggle and continues to be a challenge. Tensions regarding the role of MSF in providing care to victims of sexual violence and when facing the multiple challenges inherent in dealing with this crime persist.

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Perspectives from the field

Since its foundation, MSF has faced different forms of violence against its patients, staff, health facilities and medical vehicles, as well as against national health systems in general. Medical practice can thus be perverted for political and martial purposes. This violence deprives entire populations of vital assistance and is a means for the parties to the conflict to exert, both symbolically and practically, their power over people’s lives.
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Résistances et appropriations institutionnelles des Organisations Non Gouvernementales autour de la notion de victimes de violences sexuelles: Le cas de Médecins Sans Frontières en République Démocratique du Congo

This article analyzes Doctors Without Borders’ (MSF) organizational transformation serving victims of sexual violence. It examines how conflicts, AIDS, and media coverage shaped the institutional environment’s resistance and motivation to change.  Using social representations of victims and ethical and technical issues MSF reconsidered its field interventions and institutional learning dynamic.

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Description and consequences of sexual violence in Ituri province, Democratic Republic of Congo

The war in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has been the subject of numerous studies related to the problem of sexual violence. Such violence is known to be part of strategic war plans to conquer and destroy communities, but it is now unfortunately prevalent in times of relative calm.

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