The UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has recently announced that it is banning its government officials that provide international development assistance from having any sexual relationships with the recipients of UK development assistance. Parliament opened an inquiry that led to the ban following reports of sexual abuse scandals that rocked the UK charity sector in 2018.
The FCDO noted that the inherently unequal power relations between development assistance staff and recipients means these types of relationships are inappropriate. If staff members are found to be breaching this rule, it will be treated as potential gross misconduct.
The new regulation came in response to concerns expressed by the UK parliament’s International Development Select Committee that the government’s new strategy on safeguarding against sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment in the sector only strongly discouraged intimate relations but did not outright ban them.
The International Development Select Committee is now trying to establish whether the new ban applies to other government departments responsible for delivering UK development assistance or only applies to FCDO officials.