Shocking sexual abuses by aid workers in Africa
A 21-year-old United States citizen, Matthew Lane Durham, was brought to justice on Monday.
On that day, a court sentenced him to 40 years in prison for sexually assaulting orphaned children while on a missionary trip in Kenya in 2014.
Durham, who is from Oklahoma, was a volunteer with the Upendo Children’s Home in Nairobi between April and June 2014.
The court found him guilty on four counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places and ruled that apart from the jail term he would pay his victims $15,862 in restitution.
Prosecutors said Durham raped three girls aged 5, 9 and 15 at least eight times and that he molested a 12-year-old boy twice.
“Durham, not only forcefully sexually abused these children, but psychologically damaged them by taking advantage of their trust he received from the children,” they added.
Durbam’s case has joined the increasing number of sexual abuse incidents involving foreign aid workers who take advantage of the vulnerable children they are meant to protect.
Here are some other cases:
A British Airways pilot
British Airways pilot, Simon Wood, 54, sexually abused girls aged between the ages of five and 13, while he was in Africa for flight stopovers and charity work between 2003 and 2013.
According to one of the victim’s mothers, Wood would groom the children with gifts before giving them baths.
The sexual abuses took place at hotels, schools and orphanages across Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.
Woods was charged with one count of possessing indecent pictures of a minor, two counts of producing indecent pictures of minors and one count of indecent assault of a minor.
He was due to appear in court in August 2003. However, he died when he was hit by a train 11 days before the court appearance. His death was believed to be a suicide.
The families of some of the abused victims had maintained that the airline should bear the legal responsibility, since Wood was employed and engaged in work representing the airline at the time. British Airways paid an undisclosed sum of money.
The school teacher
A former public school teacher and United Kingdom charity organisation boss, Simon Harris, 55, was jailed for more than 17 years and four months by a UK court for abusing street children between 1996 and 2013 in a small town in Kenya’s Rift Valley.
In February, 2015 a court said Harris would lure vulnerable young boys to his opulent home with offers of food, money and the promise of education. He then subjected them to terrifying and humiliating sexual abuse.
Judge Philip Parker said the little Kenyan victims were left used, degraded, and humiliated. The mental scars would almost certainly never heal.
UN peacekeepers in war-torn African countries
The United Nations troops deployed in missions with a clear mandate to protect civilians have been involved in sex abuse allegations.
In 2015, the United Nations was informed that 10 soldiers and three police officers would be repatriated and barred from taking part in any future missions.
One soldier was sentenced to six months in prison for sexually abusing a minor in exchange for money, a crime dating back to 2014, while another was punished with a 60-day jail term.
Another soldier was forced into retirement for child rape, while a military observer received a warning for engaging in prostitution.
An independent panel concluded in December 2015 that the United Nations had grossly mishandled serious cases of child rape in the Central African Republic despite the official zero-tolerance policy on sexual violence.
Of the 69 allegations, 22 involved peacekeepers in the Central African Republic while 16 were from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to the report, the high number of cases from the Central African Republic stems from the violent conflict that has pushed women and girls into prostitution and increased their vulnerability to abuse.
A 12-year-old’s nightmare
Twelve-year-old “Elizabeth” from Northwestern Cote d’Ivoire was raped by 10 UN peacekeepers, who spotted her walking past their camp with her little brother, in 2007.
She said, “There were men there who called my little brother over and gave him biscuits.
“I refused to go, but one man came to me and held me by my dress and took me into the bush far from the road. His friends came, there were 10 of them.
“They held me down and raped me one by one. I could not flee. They were big men.
“Afterwards I ran to my village, I was crying all night and vomiting. Even today I have medical problems. I can never forget that thing, it is stuck in my mind and I keep seeing it happen over and over like a film.”
Too fearful to leave the security of her village, she dropped out of school. As of the time she narrated the experience to the The Daily Telegraph almost a year later, she said she freezes with fear whenever she sees a white UN or aid agency vehicle.
Canadian activist suffers in South Sudan
An international human rights activist Saskatchewan’s Megan Nobert, who went to South Sudan to help break the cycle of sexual violence, ended up being drugged and sexually assaulted.
She said the assault happened on the United Nations base where she was living – and that her attacker worked for a UN contractor. But when she demanded the UN investigate, little happened.
“It’s kind of a cruel irony; that what I was going to help other women [in South Sudan] deal with, had happened to me. It was horrible,” Nobert later said on a television programme, As It Happens.
She explained that she had been having dinner and drinks with several friends on the base before the attack.
“I was dancing, I had a couple glasses of wine; enough to make me tipsy but not enough to make me drunk. And I was sitting at the table, I turned to my friend, then I turned to my left, and … that’s the last thing I remember,” Nobert recalled.
She woke up in the metal container in which she was living, feeling violently ill. But that wasn’t the worst of it; she had a troubling feeling that she couldn’t shake. She was naked in her bed; with no idea how she got there or how she got undressed.