Preventing sexual exploitation and abuse: Voices from the field

Friday, 23 June 2017

Goma | MONUSCO | Aïssatou Laba Touré

Since 2006, Jean-Roger Kuate, the first training officer recruited to the Conduct and Discipline Unit of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), has contributed to the development of educational programmes and training material on sexual exploitation and abuse.

In the office located in Goma, the capital of the province of North Kivu, he ensures this training reaches civil and uniformed personnel, staff of UN agencies, contractors and maintenance workers. He sat down with Aïssatou Laba Touré of MONUSCO for an interview about his work.

What does your work entail?

I was the first training officer recruited by the Conduct and Discipline Unit in Kinshasa to create educational programmes and training material on sexual exploitation and abuse. In 2006, the first year of my assignment, I trained more than 15,000 blue helmets. The following year, I trained more than 23,000. Since 2014, I have been posted in Goma, where I oversee the Unit’s conduct and discipline training as well as a community awareness programme. 

Besides awareness training, what do you do in cases of allegations of sexual exploitation or abuse against UN staff?

As soon as the team receives any type of allegation, I study the case and decide whether or not it is admissible, before sending it to the central unit for evaluation. Depending on the nature of the case, an enquiry is opened and registered in our database. If the case concerns sexual exploitation or abuse, I immediately send an alert to the central unit to activate involvement of the Immediate Response Team (IRT), which is a rapid response mechanism to protect the victim and collect additional information if necessary. Sexual exploitation and abuse involves rape, sexual relations with minors, paid sex or an exchange of some kind.

Have you succeeded in addressing the anger of staff involved?

Generally, this doesn’t happen because people that file these types of allegations do not let the person involved know about it. Occasionally, during or after an inquiry, a staff member will find out that an allegation against them has been reported to us. However, when it comes to risks of sexual exploitation and abuse within MONUSCO, we always remind staff on mission that there is no private life - we are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - and that private and professional life is intertwined. Our rules apply to both the work environment and life outside of work. 

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