The ‘Hypocrisy’ Still Hurts After UN Staffer’s Assault

Nearly a decade after being violently assaulted while working for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Sri Lanka, Shannon Mouillesseaux has tough words for her former employer.

“If you describe yourself as the leader in women’s rights and human rights, but then you scoff at individuals who have experienced similar incidents in the field and diminish their experience or act as if it wasn’t a big deal,” she points out, “there’s one word for that and it’s called hypocrisy.”

Despite its mission of caring for some of the world’s most vulnerable people – work that Mouillesseaux truly loved – she says in the wake of her own assault, the UN failed to show her the empathy and understanding she would expect from a humanitarian organization.  

In this podcast, Mouillesseaux takes us back to the night a group of masked and hooded men forced their way into her hotel room, and describes the organizational obstacles and neglect that hampered her own recovery. Her years-long quest for justice also inspired Mouillesseaux to fight for other humanitarian colleagues who had survived trauma. “I really felt compelled to show up at headquarters and knock on what I viewed as all the right doors, to be able to say, ‘Hey, in my case, something didn’t go quite the way one would expect,’ she tells us. ‘Let’s see what we can do to improve it for others.'”

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