Preventing Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (P-SEAH) Policy



The elements of this policy are inherent within ADRA Cambodia’s core identity, values and beliefs and are intended to provide a framework for the compliance with the purposes of the ADRA Network operating standards and applications to the risks of SEAH.

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Cambodia is the humanitarian and development agency of the Seventh-day Adventist Church with the purpose to “Serve humanity so that all may live as God intended.

ADRA Cambodia believes “that all people, in particular women and children, have the right to protection and a life free from violence, sexual exploitation, and all other forms of abuse.”

This policy exists so that

A. Ultimately, there is no sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment (SEAH) of children or any vulnerable adults who interact/engage with ADRA Cambodia Personnel during our humanitarian and development work.

B. ADRA Cambodia continuously strengthens an organizational wide culture of increasing compassion, integrity and respect in which there is no place for SEAH in any form.

C. Internally, ADRA Cambodia Personnel know clearly that any form of SEAH is unacceptable.

D. Externally, all ADRA Cambodia Personnel, Partners and communities ADRA Cambodia works with, know ADRA Cambodia’s standards of behavior relative to sexual relationships.

E. All ADRA Cambodia Personnel know how to report and make a complaint relative to SEAH incidents, and mechanisms for this are clear, accessible, sensitive to gender and culture, and confidential.

F. Responses to SEAH allegations are people-focused and the comprehensive needs of those involved are prioritized.



A. Sexual exploitation
Any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust for sexual purposes. It includes profiting monetarily, socially, or politically from sexual exploitation of another.

B. Sexual abuse
The actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions. It covers sexual offences including but not limited to: attempted rape (which includes attempts to force someone to perform oral sex); and sexual assault (which includes non-consensual kissing and touching). All sexual activity with children (under the age of 18) is considered to be sexual abuse.

C. Sexual harassment
A person sexually harasses another person if the person makes an unwelcome sexual advance or an unwelcome request for sexual favors or engages in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, in circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated the possibility that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated. Sexual harassment can take various forms. It can be obvious or indirect, physical or verbal, repeated or one-off and perpetrated by any person of any gender towards any person of any gender. Sexual harassment can be perpetrated against beneficiaries, community members, citizens, as well as ADRA personnel.



This policy is applicable to all ADRA Cambodia Personnel, which includes all ADRA Cambodia’s employees, interns, volunteers, contractors and members of Board Director engaged by or representing ADRA Cambodia in a short or long-term capacity.

This policy applies to all ADRA Cambodia Personnel while in and outside of the workplace during working and non-working hours while working on assignments with or representing ADRA Cambodia. Engaging in the delivery of ADRA Cambodia’s work means that one must comply with ADRA Cambodia’s standards of preventing SEAH, even if the standards are higher than one’s local context or governing laws.



This policy is developed upon the following six principles chosen as well as a guide the application of policy and subsequent procedures (adapted based on the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) and the Church Agency Network Disaster Operation’s (CAN DO) prevention of SEAH principles):

Principle 1: Zero tolerance of inaction

Sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment are never acceptable. ADRA Cambodia recognizes that achieving a significant reduction in SEAH is a long-term endeavor that needs a significant investment in prevention and that will result in increased reporting. Zero tolerance means acting on every allegation in a fair and reasonable way with due regard for procedural fairness. Zero tolerance does not mean that there will be zero incidents. However, inaction under any circumstances is not acceptable.

Principle 2: Strong leadership accelerates culture change

ADRA Cambodia recognizes that strong leadership is essential for diminishing the risk of SEAH. Leaders set organizational culture through setting clear expectations, modeling respectful behavior in their interactions at work, taking measures to improve diversity, inclusion and gender balance; encouraging scrutiny of their own behavior and that of senior management; ensuring strong, actionable human resource procedures that embed gender equality; the inclusion of the prevention of SEAH discussions on board meeting agendas; and having senior champions responsible for the prevention of SEAH.

Principle 3: Survivor needs are prioritized

Action to address SEAH should be underpinned by a “do no harm” approach prioritizing the rights, needs, and wishes of the victim/survivor, while ensuring procedural fairness to all parties. This approach:

  • treats the victim/survivor with dignity and respect
  • involves the victim/survivor in decision making
  • provides the victim/survivor with comprehensive information
  • protects privacy and confidentiality
  • does not discriminate based on gender, age, race/ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, or other characteristics
  • considers the need and provides for counselling and health services to assist the victim/survivor with their recovery.

Principle 4: Preventing Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment is a shared responsibility

Preventing sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment is everyone’s responsibility. ADRA Cambodia will do its best to support its Partners and other stakeholders it engages with, including government, business, other non-government organizations, institutions, communities and individuals, to collectively address the underlying causes of SEAH while dealing sensitively and effectively with SEAH that occurs in the course of our work. This will include support to strengthen local prevention of SEAH mechanisms, including the mechanisms of ADRA Cambodia’s Partners, and joining any interagency SEAH reporting mechanisms when available.

Principle 5: Gender inequality and other power imbalances increase vulnerability

Available data indicates that the majority of SEAH victims/survivors are female and the majority of perpetrators are male. However, there are also other power imbalances at play. Inequalities based on the distinctions of worker/beneficiary; ability/disability; ethnic and Indigenous status; religion; gender identity and sexual orientation; age; health and poverty, can also result in SEAH. The intersection of gender with other forms of inequality can further increase the likelihood of SEAH occurring. Engagement with beneficiaries in our work should be based on respect for diversity, promotion of gender equality and social inclusion, accountability, and a strong “do no harm” focus.

Principle 6: Stronger reporting will enhance accountability and transparency

Sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment are a failure of responsibility. ADRA Cambodia acknowledges its accountability to not only donors, but also to the communities, customers and clients it engages with. Stronger reporting will allow ADRA Cambodia to better monitor SEAH, understand risks, improve assurance and work with its Partners to improve systems and safeguards accordingly. Reporting will also help to focus ADRA Cambodia and its Partners on the issue by providing a regular prompt that preventing SEAH is a core obligation of our work. Beneficiaries will be informed of their rights and how to access appropriate reporting channels. In addition to the above principles, ADRA Cambodia is also committed to the Interagency Standing Committee’s (IASC) Six Core Principles Relating to SEAH. See Annex 1 for the full statement of these.



Robust controls to identify, manage, monitor and mitigate the risk of SEAH through a proportional risk management approach will be implemented through this policy. Within programming approaches, ADRA Cambodia and its Partners will assess the level of risk for SEAH occurring, and apply the Preventing SEAH Minimum Standards (Annex 2) accordingly. This is particularly crucial in humanitarian settings. The Preventing SEAH Minimum Standards are then applied commensurate with the level of risk identified. Risk and decision-making processes and documents will reflect this assessment. This does not need to be a standalone procedure, and will be incorporated into existing activity planning and risk management processes. The risk assessment is updated on an annual basis.



A. Leadership

a. ADRA Cambodia’s board and senior leaders will lead by example to nurture a strong safeguarding culture that addresses structural inequalities based on gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality and age within the workplace.

b. ADRA Cambodia will seek out gender and safeguarding expertise as desirable skills and experience when recruiting new people to the board.

c. ADRA Cambodia’s Administrative Committee (ADCOM) and senior managers will set clear expectations and model respectful behavior in their interactions at work.

d. ADRA Cambodia’s Safeguarding Focal Point has an overall responsibility for the development and implementation of prevention of SEAH policy and activities. This person will report regularly to ADCOM on the prevention of SEAH related matters.

e. ADRA Cambodia’s leadership will create a speak-up culture on preventing SEAH issues.


B. Recruitment and Screening

a. For employed positions, ADRA Cambodia’s recruitment and screening process includes the following components to help prevent the recruitment or engagement of any persons who pose an unacceptable SEAH risk. Procedures include:

i. A statement on ADRA Cambodia’s zero-tolerance on SEAH will be included on all job advertisements, job descriptions and performance management reviews.

ii. Applicants are requested to disclose whether or not they have had a substantiated SEAH claim of any nature made against them in Cambodia or Currently overseas. This is included in the Job Application Form and Consultant Agreements.

iii. Behavioral interview questions about sexual harassment and abuse are used to determine past actions, beliefs, attitudes, motivations, and values regarding children, women, men and all vulnerable adults and towards working with these groups.

iv. Two verbal reference checks, which include asking questions relating to any concerns about the candidate’s conduct in the context of SEAH. One reference must be from the person’s current or most recent employer.

v. All contracts require contractors to agree to ADRA Cambodia’s Code of Conduct, which includes a PSEAH section.

vi. For international staff recruitment – Conduct a National Criminal History Check for each country in which the applicant has lived for 12 months or longer over the last 5 years, and for the individual’s countries of citizenship

viii. The orientation process will include the highlighting of behavioral expectations relative to preventing SEAH within the workplace.

b. All employment contracts contain provisions for disciplinary actions up to and including dismissal for any person who breaches the Code of Conduct, which includes SEAH.

c. ADRA Cambodia Personnel are responsible for reporting a change in their circumstances to ADRA Cambodia’s management by reporting any current criminal or civil court proceedings relating to SEAH and any allegations arising.

d. ADRA Cambodia will collaborate within and beyond our sector to improve employment practice, including background checking, to minimize opportunities for perpetrators’ to access our sector and to reduce their ability to move between organizations.

e. For international volunteers (of over 3 months), ADRA Cambodia will ensure that:

   i. National Criminal History Check for each country in which the applicant has lived for 12 months or longer over the last 5 years, and for the individual’s countries of citizenship

   ii. The orientation process will include the highlighting of behavioral expectations relative to preventing SEAH within the workplace.


C. Personnel Conduct

The following standards of conduct apply within ADRA Cambodia’s work environment (see Annex A for Interagency Standing Committee (IASC) standards):

   a. SEAH by any ADRA Cambodia Personnel constitute acts of gross misconduct and are therefore grounds for termination of employment.

   b. Sexual activity with children (persons under the age of 18) is prohibited regardless of the age of majority (adulthood) or age of consent locally. Mistaken belief regarding the age of a child is not a defense (Please refer to ADRA Cambodia’s Child Protection Policy for more information).

   c. Exchange of money, employment, goods, or services for sex, including sexual favors or other forms of humiliating, degrading or exploitative behavior are prohibited. This includes exchange of assistance that is due to beneficiaries.

   d. Sexual relationships between ADRA Cambodia Personnel (including Partners) and beneficiaries is not permitted since this is contrary to ADRA Cambodia’s values and are based on inherently unequal power dynamics. Such relationships undermine the credibility and integrity development and humanitarian aid work.

   e. Where an ADRA Cambodia Personnel develops concerns or suspicions regarding SEAH by a fellow worker, whether in the same agency or not, he or she must report such concerns via established agency reporting mechanisms.


D. Programs

Inherent within ADRA Cambodia’s values-based approach to programming is respect for diversity, gender equality and equity, social inclusion, accountability and a “do-no harm” focus. The following programming practices will be implemented to help strengthen healthy relationships and minimize the risks of SEAH.

   a. Project/program design processes include systematic analysis of context power dynamics and issues of gender equality and equity that lead to project approaches and activities to mitigate SEAH risks. Appraisal and project selection processes will take these into account.

   b. ADRA Cambodia will work through its personnel development and programming activities to
      i. Challenge attitudes which permit or excuse sexual misconduct internally and/or in program activities.
      ii. Ensure that gender equity is a programming priority.

   c. Ensure prevention measures for SEAH such as community awareness raising or undertaking SEAH risk analysis are adequately included in proposal and/or funding applications.

   d. Include activities on preventing SEAH, raising awareness and sensitivities in project plans.

   e. All programs will be based on a thorough risk assessment that includes SEAH risk. (See Section 5).


E. Training & Awareness Raising

The following activities will be carried out to continuously strengthen ADRA Cambodia’s organizational wide culture of increasing love, compassion and respect in which there is no place for SEAH in any form, and to ensure that ADRA Cambodia Personnel know clearly that any form of SEAH are unacceptable:

   a. During the initial orientation process with new employees, ADRA Cambodia’s standards on sexual misconduct will be made explicit.

   b. All ADRA Cambodia Personnel will receive orientation and/or training relative to preventing SEAH so that they understand the relevant principles, their responsibilities in treating each other respectfully, and reporting mechanisms in place if they become aware of any SEAH related concerns or allegations. Training as set out in orientation and/or training agendas is mandatory.

   c. Healthy sexual relations and inclusive values will be part of ongoing education and refresher training activities, technical advice, and day to day guidance by managers and leaders to support awareness and skill building relative to preventing SEAH.

   d. All full time ADRA Cambodia Personnel will receive job specific prevention of SEAH training as well as a yearly refresher.

   e. For ADRA Cambodia Personnel involved in disaster response, pre-deployment training will include scenario-based discussions about power imbalances, status and workplace cultures of the destination country and the potential impact of these on those deployed.

   f. Job descriptions and performance management processes will include behavioral components that support implementation of ADRA Cambodia’s Code of Conduct.


F. Working with Partners, Suppliers & Contractors

   a. ADRA Cambodia will ensure the prevention of SEAH requirements are both understood and met by their implementing partners (consultants, contractors, supporters and implementing partners) during the yearly cycle and provide the necessary training and support so that those requirements are met.

   b. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) governs the formal relationship between ADRA Cambodia and organizational partners. By signing an MOU, Partners agree to abide by prevention of SEAH standards as outlined in this policy, and ensure that any downstream Partners also agree to abide by the same standards.

   c. As part of the MOU agreement, Partners will be supported to fulfill their responsibility to provide prevention of SEAH training for their downstream partners.

   d. A PSEAH Safeguarding risk assessment will be included as part of partner assessment tools to determine the risk level of a potential organization implementing partner.

   e. All contracts with Contractors must include a requirement for the Contractor to agree to abide by the standards within this policy, and ensure that any agreed subcontractors also abide by the same policy.


G. Engagement with Communities

ADRA Cambodia will ensure through its MOUs, project stakeholder orientations, and personnel interactions that each local Partner that engages directly with communities has an understanding of the expected behaviour of ADRA Cambodia Personnel and partners, and that detailed complaints and reporting procedures, which have been developed through consultative processes, are understood, accessable, and operational.



   A. Reporting

      a. ADRA Cambodia will treat all raised concerns seriously and ensure that all parties are treated fairly.

      b. Who reports
All ADRA Cambodia Personnel as defined under the Policy’s scope (see Section 3 – Scope) must report any alleged or suspected incidents of SEAH or Policy noncompliance that comes to their attention.

      c. What is to be reported
Reporting is for any suspected or alleged cases of SEAH perpetrated by anyone within the scope of the Policy in connection with official duties or business. If in doubt, ADRA Cambodia personnel should report an alleged incident. Reports of abuse or exploitation of individuals under the age of 18 years must follow ADRA Cambodia’s Child Protection Policy.

      d. When to report
All ADRA Cambodia Personnel are required to report immediately to the ADRA Cambodia Safeguarding Focal Point (or if the ADRA Cambodia Safeguarding Focal Point is not available, to the ADRA Cambodia CD) if they have any suspicion or knowledge of SEAH or Policy non-compliance occurring. Verbal complaints by stakeholders must be documented by personnel and submitted in written form if the stakeholder is unable or unwilling to submit personally. Reports must be made within 24 hours of the complaint being identified or within 24 hours of access to means of communication with the ADRA Cambodia Safeguarding Focal Point.

      e. How to report
All reports of alleged SEAH incidents should be made using the ADRA Cambodia preventing SEAH Complaint Form (ANNEX C) and anonymously emailed to the ADRA Cambodia Safeguarding Focal Point (Currently the ADRA Cambodia Human Resources Manager). Reports will be dealt with in a timely manner, and where required will be reported to relevant regulatory bodies/donors per agreements (such as ADRA donor office, Gov. donor partners, ARO, ADRA International).  Where safe to do so, and when in accordance with the wishes of the victims, survivors and whistleblowers, all alleged SEAH incidents that involve a criminal aspect should be reported through the correct local law enforcement channels.

      g. Community reporting
Communities involved in ADRA Cambodia funded activities must be informed on how to raise a concern about the safety of anyone within their community, including threats or actual incidents of SEAH. This will be done through a functional community-based complaints procedure in line with the ADRA Cambodia based complaints mechanism.

     h. Confidentiality
Confidentiality is an ethical principle that restricts access to and dissemination of information. Confidentiality helps create an environment in which witnesses are more willing to recount their versions of events and builds trust in the system and in the organization. All incidents and alleged incidents of SEAH are to be handled with sensitivity and confidentiality, to the extent permitted by relevant laws. During investigations of SEAH only a limited number of authorized people will be informed of the incident. At a minimum, this will include the ADRA Cambodia Safeguarding Focal Point and the ADRA Cambodia CD. All documentation of any allegations made, either electronic or paper, is to be kept in a secure place at all times.

       i. The ADRA Cambodia Board and ADRA International must be notified of any reports made (though the details of such reports may remain confidential).

   B. Investigations

The following apply to investigations in response to any complaint, allegation or suspicion of SEAH or breach of this policy:

      a. Ensure that investigations are undertaken by experienced and qualified professionals, who are trained on sensitive investigations such as allegations of SEAH. If there is no one within the relevant member agency with these qualifications and training, external resources will be accessed. An investigation should be managed by someone at ADRA Cambodia and a trained investigator/s should be deployed in the field. ADRA Cambodia Personnel are required to report, not to investigate or substantiate claims in any way.

      b. ADRA Cambodia  will fund investigations through legal affairs budget line items.

      c. Each investigation should be carefully recorded as part of a database or tracking system. Investigations will be documented and filed, with all printed and electronic matter being kept in a secure and confidential place at all times.

      d. The investigation status and subsequent action will be shared with the survivor. The complainant will be informed of the status of the investigation, but confidential information will not be shared with them.

      e. ADRA Cambodia must report investigation information to the ADRA Board and donor partners as noted in A.e above. This will be done in a timely manner.

      f. During the process, adhere to privacy laws and respect information. Ensure sensitive information is available only to the appropriate and authorized stakeholders.

     g. Investigations will commence within 2 weeks (domestic complaints) and 90 days (international complaints) of a report being received.

      h. Substantiated complaints will result in either disciplinary action or contractual consequences unless there is clear justification for not. If no action is taken, documented reasons are to be provided for such a decision.

      i. In the case that an SEAH complaint is substantiated after an investigation, a disciplinary letter be issued to the respective person and a record kept in a confidential file.

     j. If allowed by local law, provide adequate information to other potential employers when approached for a reference check on a former staff member dismissed for substantiated SEAH.

      k. ADRA Cambodia will report criminal actions to local authorities provided the risk is manageable and in line with the wishes of the survivor.

   C. Survivor Support Guidelines

      a. ADRA Cambodia will ensure a survivor-centered approach in preventing and responding to SEAH. This approach will ensure all responses are developed in a manner that balances respect for due process, in which the survivors’ wishes, safety, and well-being remain a priority in all matters and procedures. All actions taken should be guided by respect for choices, wishes, rights and dignity of the survivor.

      b. All alleged survivors should be assessed for immediate risks. A risk assessment will be conducted of the situation and information available to ensure the safety and security of those involved, and to ascertain support services required.

      c. A database of support services in country/regions will be developed and available to be shared with the survivor.

      d. At a minimum, ADRA Cambodia will provide counselling support services for the survivor, if desired. Assistance will be provided during the reporting/investigation stage, and ongoing support if the complaint is substantiated. This may include: referral to safe health/medical, psychosocial and legal/justice response where appropriate and where required to specialized children’s or women’s services.

      e. A budget line item will be set aside for survivor support.

      f. Survivors will be provided with information on the progression of an investigation and final outcomes.

ADRA Cambodia is committed to staying up to date with sector minimum standards as they relate to the prevention of SEAH, and to reviewing our policies and procedures every three years unless required earlier.


Annex A

Principles of the Interagency Standing Committee (IASC):

  1. Sexual exploitation and abuse by humanitarian workers constitute acts of gross misconduct and are therefore grounds for termination of employment.
  2. Sexual activity with children (persons under the age of 18) is prohibited regardless of the age of majority or age of consent locally. Mistaken belief regarding the age of a child is not a defense.
  3. Exchange of money, employment, goods, or services for sex, including sexual favors or other forms of humiliating, degrading or exploitative behavior is prohibited. This includes exchange of assistance that is due to beneficiaries.
  4. Sexual relationships between humanitarian workers and beneficiaries are strongly discouraged since they are based on inherently unequal power dynamics. Such relationships undermine the credibility and integrity of humanitarian aid work.
  5. Where a humanitarian worker develops concerns or suspicions regarding sexual abuse or exploitation by a fellow worker, whether in the same agency or not, he or she must report such concerns via established agency reporting mechanisms.
  6. Humanitarian workers are obliged to create and maintain an environment which prevents sexual exploitation and abuse and promotes the implementation of their code of conduct. Managers at all levels have part