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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

UN Women sacks official over sexual misconduct 

Allegations against Ravi Karkara range from making obscene gestures to sending links to pornography

Ravi Karkara speaking at the kick-off event for the International Women's Day March for Gender Equality and Women's Rights. UN Photo 
Ravi Karkara speaking at the kick-off event for the International Women's Day March for Gender Equality and Women's Rights. UN Photo 

A senior UN official was dismissed following allegations of sexual misconduct made against him by at least eight men.

Ravi Karkara, a New York-based employee of UN Women was sacked after a 15-month investigation upheld findings of sexual misconduct.

In a statement on Tuesday the Executive Director of the UN agency, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said they had taken "the strongest disciplinary measure available within the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations (UN)".

The former staff member is now prohibited from any future employment within the UN system.

"Although UN Women does not have the authority to prosecute, the UN is guided by its obligation to bring credible allegations of criminal conduct to the attention of relevant national authorities," Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka said. "UN Women stands ready to cooperate with any national authority that decides to investigate this matter."

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The Telegraph in August reported that the allegations against Karkara ranged from making obscene gestures in the workplace to sending links to pornography. He was also accused of sending messages inviting young men to masturbate, or asking them questions of a sexual nature.

One alleged victim, 25-year-old Steve Lee, said Karkara often made inappropriate gestures and comments while Muhammad Junaid Mandoori, 26, told The Guardian that he and other men had been stalked online, bombarded with indecent images, and asked for sexual favours in return for opportunities within the UN.

The UN Women first acknowledgement receiving allegations of sexual misconduct in December 2017, during which time the agency reiterated its zero tolerance policy.

"We recognise the seriousness with which such a case should be treated," the agency said in a statement. "As the UN entity for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality, UN Women works diligently to end sexual and gender-based violence"

It would take another nine months before Karkara was officially dismissed.

In his role as senior adviser to the former deputy executive director of UN Women Karkara was tasked with promoting gender equality and youth partnerships.

The dismissal follows a year of sexual harassment claims and alleged offences from former employees in the UN, ranging from verbal abuse to rape. The UN received 54 allegations of sexual misconduct against civilians staff and peacekeepers in the first three months of 2018.

“with over 95,000 civilians and 90,000 uniformed personnel working for the UN, sexual exploitation and abuse are not reflective of the conduct of the majority of the dedicated women and men who serve the organisation," Deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters in May.

“But every allegation involving our personnel undermines our values and principles and the sacrifice of those who serve with pride and professionalism in some of the most dangerous places in the world.”