Youth Challenge International (YCI) commits to a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) and considers any such acts a gross misconduct and grounds for dismissal. YCI recognizes the unequal power dynamics inherent in international development work and our responsibility to protect the human rights of the communities we serve and provide an environment free of sexual exploitation and abuse.
This policy applies to all employees, volunteers and other related personnel of Youth Challenge International working with project beneficiaries. This policy also affirms YCI’s commitment to the welfare of its project beneficiaries and to a survivor-centred approach.
Any complaints related to SEA will be treated with the utmost confidentiality within the power of the organization. Settling of the complaint will lean toward removing the alleged aggressor rather than the survivor. The survivor’s informed consent will be secured before commencing each new step of the response procedures for the reported SEA incident. The survivor may withdraw the complaint or decide to halt further actions at any time, provided it is still within YCI’s power to comply and the matter has not yet been referred to police.
All complaints of sexual exploitation and abuse will be investigated and disciplinary sanctions up to and including termination of employment/contract will be applied. Any proven false accusations of SEA will be deemed to constitute a violation of this Policy and Code of Conduct and disciplinary sanctions will be applied, as appropriate.
This Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Policy (December 2020) replaces all and any previous YCI policies on Sexual Assault, Harassment and Exploitation.
This PSEA Policy and accompanying Code of Conduct are based on:
This PSEA Policy and Code of Conduct applies to all Youth Challenge International employees, volunteers and other related personnel in their conduct with YCI project beneficiaries. For the purpose of this Policy, the term “Employees, Volunteers and other related Personnel” (EVP) includes: all employees of YCI at headquarter offices and country offices; Directors and Officers; national and international staff; national and international volunteers; national and international interns; and national and international consultants, in addition to individual and corporate contractors of these entities and their related personnel.
The term also includes all YCI affiliated entities and their employees and individuals who have entered into partnership, sub-grant or sub-recipient agreements, and are operating under the umbrella of YCI’s international programs.
Sexual harassment or abuse incidents taking place among project beneficiaries are not within the scope of application of this Policy nor its Code of Conduct. For such incidents, YCI may assist the beneficiary by referring him/her to pre-identified local service providers.
Youth Challenge International is dedicated to enforcing and observing this PSEA Policy by way of the following commitments to:
Since the relationship between development workers and beneficiaries of development programs is inherently unequal in terms of power relations and levels of authority, all YCI employees, volunteers and other related personnel must be vigilant and rigorously avoid any action (suggested, implied or perceived) that would suggest or imply that a sexual act might be demanded as a condition for engaging in offered programs and services. Actions of such nature are at odds with the objectives of YCI, which is to support sustainable youth livelihoods. As such, violation of this Policy and Code of Conduct undermines the credibility and integrity of YCI.
All YCI employees, volunteers and other related personnel must familiarize themselves with this Policy and Code of Conduct and are required to uphold it, put it into action, and understand that YCI has zero tolerance towards such gross misconduct.
All YCI Employees, Volunteers and other related Personnel must adhere to the following expectations:
Directors, Project Leads, PSEA Focal Points and Human Resources personnel bear added responsibility and have a key role to play:
Code of Conduct: A set of standards of behaviour that all employees, volunteers and other related personnel of Youth Challenge International (YCI) and its partners are obliged to adhere to.
Misconduct: Failure by employees, volunteers and other related personnel to comply with their obligations under the PSEA Policy and Code of Conduct.
Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA): A term used by the United Nations and non- governmental community to refer to measures taken to protect vulnerable people from sexual exploitation and abuse by their own staff and associated personnel.
Sexual Abuse: The actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions. Sexual activities are only legal when both parties consent.
Sexual Consent: The voluntary agreement of all parties to engage in sexual activities. Conduct short of a voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activities does not constitute consent. Sexual touching is only lawful if the person affirmatively communicated their consent, whether through words or conduct. Silence or passivity does not equal consent. No consent is obtained when:
Sexual Exploitation: Any actual or attempted abuse of position of vulnerability, differential power or trust, for sexual purposes, including, but not limited to, profiting monetarily, socially or politically from the sexual exploitation of another. This includes acts such as transactional sex, solicitation of transactional sex, unwelcome sexual advances from people in positions of power and exploitative relationships. All sexual activities with children (a person under 18 years of age) are considered to be of an exploitative nature.
Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA): Particular forms of gender-based violence that have been reported in international development and humanitarian assistance contexts, specifically alleged against development and humanitarian aid workers.
Sexual Harassment: Any improper, unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favour, verbal or physical conduct or gestures of a sexual nature, or any other behaviour of a sexual nature that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation to another. Sexual harassment may be deliberated, unsolicited and coercive. Both males and females can either be the victim or offender.
Survivor-Centered Approach: YCI gives, to the extent possible and safe, the survivor control over the decision-making process; provides internal support and arranges support from relevant professional services as needed. Exceptions to the survivor-centered approach will only be made if the survivor’s wishes could place her/him or others at risk.
Beneficiaries: All persons receiving services and/or assistance from Youth Challenge International, or through its funded programs. This definition precludes Employees, Volunteers and other related Personnel.
Indirect Beneficiaries: Persons under this category include members of targeted populations, including vulnerable individuals, who do not receive services and/or assistance from Youth Challenge International directly, but who could potentially benefit from project activities via direct beneficiaries.
Child: A person under the age of 18, regardless of the age of majority or age of consent locally.
Complainant: A person who reports an allegation of SEA to YCI in accordance with established procedures. This person may be a SEA survivor or another person who is aware of the wrongdoing. Both the survivor and the complainant, if different from the survivor, are protected from retaliation for reporting SEA. Where there is any conflict of interest between the survivor and another interested party, the survivor’s wishes are at the centre of consideration when handling the case, particularly when there is a risk of additional physical and/or emotional harm.
Development Worker: All persons involved in providing services/assistance/activities to targeted populations under the umbrella of YCI’s international assistance programs. This includes all employees, volunteers and other related personnel, regardless of the type or duration of their contract.
Employees, Volunteers and other related Personnel: All employees of YCI at headquarter offices and country offices; Directors and Officers; national and international staff; national and international volunteers; national and international interns; national and international fellows, and national and international consultants, in addition to individual and corporate contractors of these entities and their related personnel. The term also includes all YCI affiliated entities and their employees and individuals who have entered into partnership, sub-grant or sub-recipient agreements, and operating under the umbrella of YCI’s national and international programs.
Implementing Partners: Entities or organizations that operate at the local or national level, to provide services or deliver development assistance programs under the umbrella of YCI programs. All those employed by an implementing partner and involved in delivering activities under YCI programs are also considered development workers.
Investigator: A person who is authorized and responsible to conduct an investigation.
Perpetrator: A person (or group of persons) who commits an act of SEA.
Subject of Complaint: Once a complaint has been filed, the alleged perpetrator of SEA is referred to under this term.
Survivor: A beneficiary of a YCI programs who has been subject to sexual exploitation and abuse or an attempt of sexual exploitation and abuse by employees, volunteers and other related personnel.
Whistleblower: A person other than the survivor who reports SEA concerns or suspicions of misconduct by colleagues.
Witness: A person who observed, or has direct knowledge of, something under investigation.
Vulnerable Adults: All persons over 18 years of age who are unable to take care of themselves or protect themselves from harm or exploitation; or who, due to their gender, mental or physical health, disability, ethnicity, religious identity, sexual orientation, economic or social status, are deemed to be at risk.
Assessment of a Complaint: A review of received information to determine if the information amounts to an allegation of misconduct that warrants referral for an investigation.
Case: A situation requiring the attention and possible action of a person who has become aware of it.
Complaint: Information provided, whether by a complainant or any other person (a whistleblower or the survivor), indicating conduct that may be in breach of the SEA Code of Conduct but that has yet to be assessed.
Confidentiality: The disclosure of certain information is restricted and only shared on a need to know basis.
Evidence: Information which tends to establish or disprove a fact material to a case. It includes, but is not limited to, oral testimony of witnesses, including experts on technical matters, documents, electronic, audio, video records and photographs, and biological evidence, such as blood, hair and semen.
False complaint: Intentionally providing false or misleading information.
Incident report: Detailed Information reported (what/how/who/when/where), indicating a conduct that may be in breach of the Code of Conduct.
Informed Consent: Signifies the approval by the participant for the information to be used as explained. Consent is often given with limitations. It must therefore be specified whether all the data and information provided can be used, including the identity of the participant, or whether the information may be used on condition that the identity of the participants is kept confidential. The participant may deem some parts of their testimony to be confidential, and others not: this should also be clarified and recorded. Informed consent is voluntarily and freely given based upon a clear appreciation and understanding of the facts, implications, and future consequences of an action. In order to give informed consent, the individual concerned must have all relevant facts at the time consent is given and be able to evaluate and understand the consequences of an action. They also must be aware of, and have the power to exercise, their right to refuse to engage in an action and/or to not be coerced. Children’s informed consent should take into consideration their evolving capacities. In the case of a child, informed consent should be voluntary with the informed consent of the child and a parent or guardian. Persons with disabilities may need specific support based on the nature of their impairment whether it be physical, intellectual, or mental, to give consent. Even if informed consent is granted, the information collector has an obligation to assess the potential implications of the use of that information on the safety of the person providing it and on others involved; and to minimize any additional risk to the participants that may be incurred.
Interview: The questioning of a person for the purpose of gathering relevant information related to a SEA matter.
Investigation: An analytical process designed to gather information in order to determine whether a sexual misconduct occurred and if so, to determine the responsible person or entities.
Whistle Blower Channel: The whistleblower channel offers confidentiality and protection from retaliation for reporting a misconduct.
 The code of conduct is based on the six Core Principles of the UN Secretary-General’s Bulletin (ST/SGB/2003/13).
 Vulnerable adults are defined as: those aged over 18 years and who identify themselves as unable to take care of themselves/protect themselves from harm or exploitation; or who, due to their gender, mental or physical health, disability, ethnicity, religious identity, sexual orientation, economic or social status, are deemed to be at risk.
 Local and national laws of the country where YCI programs are implemented.
 This could include use of background and criminal reference/record checks, verbal referee checks, and interview plans that incorporate behavioural-based interview questions.
 Quantitative indicators can include: number of reported SEA incidents; number of investigated cases, number of survivor/s who received assistance, etc. Qualitative indicators could include: elements evoking an unsafe-work environment which resulted in a SEA incident and recommendation for system improvements, reasons for forging a SEA claim, etc.
 United Nations (2017), United Nations Glossary on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (2nd Edition). Prepared by the Task Team on the SEA Glossary for the Special Coordinator on improving the UN response to sexual exploitation and abuse.
 UN Secretary-General’s Bulletin, Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (ST/SGB/2003/13).
 UN Secretary-General’s Bulletin, Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (ST/SGB/2003/13).