DCU’s Anti-Corruption Research centre has been awarded €319,258.27 through the Irish Research Council

DCU research to examine the impact of sextortion and corruption on sustainable development and entrepreneurship

DCU’s Anti-Corruption Research centre has been awarded €319,258.27 through the Irish Research Council to examine how sextortion kills entrepreneurship, innovation, and the escape from poverty.

What is sextortion?

Sextortion is a form of corruption in which public officials use their public power to sexually exploit those whom they have power over. Like most forms of corruption, the burden falls particularly hard on those who are already vulnerable.

Corruption, Gender and Sustainable Development project

The funding, to be awarded over three years, will be used to fund the project Corruption, Gender and Sustainable Development project (COGS), and will investigate previously unexplored ways in which corruption undermines gender equality, increases humanitarian need by closing off economic opportunity, and blocks climate action. DCU’s research partner is Burkino Faso’s Université Norbert Zongo. COGS will carry out interviews with female entrepreneurs and politicians in Burkina Faso to understand how sextortion and other forms of corruption can impose specific and extremely damaging costs on women seeking a career in business or politics. COGS will also analyse data collected from across Africa and the rest of the world to model how the burden of corruption falls most heavily on women.

Data from Transparency International tells us that 20% of people in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa have either experienced sextortion themselves or know someone who has when accessing government services. In Ireland, the corresponding number is 4% - representing a lower but unacceptable level of suffering.

COGS aims to drive down these terrible numbers globally while facilitating entrepreneurship and a sustainable escape from poverty. COGS is a solutions focused multidisciplinary project. A key output will be training workshops and guides to safe entrepreneurship for women. DCU’s commitment to anti-corruption and long track record in understanding and supporting entrepreneurship will be brought together to make entrepreneurship safer and more inclusive.  

COGS will also model how corruption blocks action on climate change by fostering mistrust and impeding cooperation towards the UN’s sustainable development goals.

DCU’s Dr Rob Gillanders, co-director of the DCU Anti-Corruption Research Centre and COGS’s Irish principal investigator said,

“Corruption, the abuse of public power for private gain, ruins economies, societies, and lives – especially the lives of the already disadvantaged or vulnerable. Corrupt countries grow more slowly, attract less investment, are more unequal and violent, and have higher rates of poverty and infant mortality. Corruption also blocks climate action by protecting elites and special interest groups and distorting policy. Corruption, gender, and sustainable development (COGS) will explore how sexual extortion by those in a position of power, or 'Sextortion', acts as a barrier to female economic empowerment and innovation. We will examine how gender stereotypes related to corruption can stand in the way of women holding political office and test the fundamentally important hypothesis that corruption serves as a greater barrier to accessing healthcare and education for women.”

About the Anti-Corruption Centre

The Anti-Corruption Centre (ARC) in Dublin City University is the first academic research centre dedicated to research, policy, and education on corruption and anti-corruption. ARC is a multidisciplinary research centre that brings together researchers from across DCU’s faculties.

Their mission is to advance knowledge on the causes and consequences of corruption and support the development of new anti-corruption policies and initiatives, in Ireland and abroad.