From Time immemorial, women in every country of the world under every rule have been subject to sexual exploitation. The degree may vary according to the march of civilisation. The regrettable part is that women who often wield considerable influence over menfolks particularly their spouse fail to exert pressure on their counterparts to work towards the amelioration of women, in particular those who are steeped in abject poverty. Victorious armies often perpetuate rape over the women from the defeated sides. But here is a report in The New York Times alleging Liberian girls as young as 8 being sexually exploited by United Nations peacekeepers, aid workers and teachers in return for food, small favors and even rides in trucks, according to a new report from Save the Children U.K. The report said the problem was widespread throughout Liberia, a small country struggling to get back on its feet after a long and bloody civil war. Save the Children based its findings on interviews with more than 300 people in camps for displaced people and in neighbourhoods whose residents have returned after being driven away by war. They said men in positions of authority – aid workers and soldiers, government employees and officials in the camps – were abusing girls. “All of the respondents clearly stated that the scale of the problem affected over half of the girls in their locations,” the report said. “The girls reportedly ranged in age from 8 to 18 years, with girls of 12 years and upward described as being regularly involved in ‘selling sex,’ commonly referred to as ‘man business.’ ” In a statement from Liberia, the United Nations said that eight cases of sexual abuse and exploitation involving its workers had been reported since the beginning of the year and that one staff member had been suspended, Reuters reported. “It’s unacceptable behaviour,” Jordan Ryan, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in Liberia, said in an interview with BBC radio from Monrovia, the Liberian capital. Save the Children said Liberia and the United Nations should set up an office to investigate cases of the sexual exploitation and to work to ensure that the behaviour stops, prosecuting the offenders, among other steps. It also said United Nations workers accused of sexual exploitation should “go through judicial proceedings,” and if found guilty, should not be sent elsewhere as peacekeepers. Interestingly, about three years and a half ago, following a five-month investigation, the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight rejected accusations of widespread sexual abuse by United Nations relief workers in West African refugee camps. A preliminary study, issued in February 2002 by The Save the Children U.K. and the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, said refugee children in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone were frequently forced by camp officials to have sex in exchange for food and medicine. Of the 43 cases of possible sexual exploitation investigated, only 10 were substantiated and none involved a United Nations staff member, the new report said. But it acknowledged that conditions in the camps made refugees vulnerable to sexual exploitation, especially young women.