Senior Indian Official at UN Accused of Sexual Misconduct by Eight Men

At least eight men have accused Ravi Karkara, senior adviser for the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, of sexual harassment, according to reports.


A senior United Nations official has been under investigation by the organization after he was accused of inappropriate behavior by several staffers. At least eight men have complained against Ravi Karkara, senior adviser for the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, Newsweek reported.

While the UN announced an investigation into a sexual misconduct case back in December 2017, it did not reveal the name of the subject under probe. No charges have been filed since the investigation began, the report said. According to the publication, on July 26, 2018, a spokesperson for the organization, known as UN Women, said that the “subject remains on administrative leave,” and that still on UN payroll, the subject “is not currently performing any active function.”

The UN officials confirmed on Aug. 1 that an investigation is going on but did not reveal the name of the person under probe, the report added.

The publication has identified the official under investigation as Karkara, who worked under Lakshmi Puri, the former UN assistant secretary-general for intergovernmental support and strategic partnership.

The United Nations indirectly confirmed the details of the case as reported by Newsweek, the Hindustan Times reported. “I would not dispute any of the information contained in the Newsweek article. I can confirm that the individual from UN Women has been under investigation,” it quoted Farhan Haq, a UN spokesperson, as saying in response to an email request for confirmation of the official’s identity as mentioned in the article and if he was under investigation.

Haq did not name the official or the person he worked for, the report said.

Karkara is an Indian national but not an official of the Indian government or a diplomat at the Indian permanent mission to the UN.

“Since the proceedings are still internal to the UN and relate to an international civil servant who is not an Indian diplomat the Indian Mission has not been kept informed of the developments in the UN’s internal investigation,” a diplomat at the Indian mission was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.

Karkara abused his position of power to take advantage of young people working in the organization, the Guardian said in an independent report.

Karkara is accused of various misdemeanors, including sexual misconduct and intimidation at work. He allegedly made obscene gestures in the workplace, sent pornography links and used sexually suggestive language.

Newsweek cited Mandy Sanghera and Kerry Gibson, international human rights activists and UN Women Planet 50-50 Champions, as saying that the subject of the ongoing investigation is Karkara.

Gibson and an alleged victim were reportedly the first ones to file a complaint against him, while Sanghera later confirmed the allegations. Two other former UN staffers confirmed to the publication that Karkara is the subject of the probe.

Sanghera called the senior adviser a “predator,” Newsweek reported. “It was not just about sexual misconduct, he would withhold opportunities and resources from people to control them,” she told the Guardian. “The man is a control freak and obsessed with power.”

Steve Lee, a 25-year-old policy activist, is one of the men accusing Karkara. He told the publication that he first met Karkara in 2009 as a 16-year-old delegate to the Unicef. He said the senior adviser would often taunt him by making oral sex or masturbation gestures, and “grabbed his genitals through his pants” on one occasion on Dec.1, 2016.

“He does this with a lot of young men, and I don’t really think it’s sexual favors he’s looking for,” Lee said, according to Newsweek. “He enjoys the fact that he’s at a position of such high authority that he can do this and they can’t really do anything about it.”

Aashish Khullar, the former organizing partner of the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth, told the magazine that he had personally spoken to seven or eight young men who have accused Karkara of sexual misconduct. “There was a prevailing sense among all who had worked with him that misconduct was his modus operandi,” Khullar said of Karkara, according to the report. “No one was surprised when this was formally raised.”

No publication has been able to get in touch with Karkara over the accusations so far.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *