205 women at UNAIDS refute reports of sexual harassment

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More than 205 women from UNAIDS Offices across the world, from every level and every continent, have dismissed speculations of sexual harassment in the organisation.

This was in a statement issued by Mr Charles-Martin Jjuuko, Communications and Global Outreach Officer, UNAIDS Nigeria, on Wednesday in Abuja.

The statement quoted the women describing reports quoting a staff member of the organisation as false.

The statement said the women were reacting to speculations that UNAIDS had allowed a “sexist culture”.

It quoted the women as saying that they took exception to claims that they are a window dressing and that “there is an expectation to trade sexual favours for promotions and other advancements’’.

“We categorically reject this portrayal as it does not represent our experience of working at UNAIDS and diminishes and discredits us as professionals and our many years of dedicated service.

“We strongly believe that no one person can speak to our individual experiences or our values, especially without our collaboration and consent.

“We represent a diversity of culture, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, HIV status and expertise; we are united by our commitment to the AIDS response, women’s empowerment and the right to live free from violence and harassment,’’ the statement read.

It said that the women renewed their commitment to  support and stand by all people who have experienced sexual harassment.

“We stand in solidarity with the AIDS response as one of the most remarkable responses to an epidemic in modern history.

“We are proud to work for UNAIDS and the people we serve through our work, bringing hope, dignity and health to millions around the world,’’ the statement said.

The UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) had adopted terms and scope for the Independent Expert Panel on prevention and response to sexual harassment at the organisation.

The panel was one of several measures designed to strengthen the culture of zero tolerance for sexual harassment, abuse and unethical behaviour at UNAIDS.