Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

The Theft of Innocence: Voluntourism and Child Sexual Abuse

Trigger Warning: Article contains stories of rape and child sexual abuse

On the 7th of March 2016, at an American district court in Oklahoma, twenty year old missionary Matthew Durham was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $15,863 in restitution after he was convicted of sexually abusing children at an orphanage in Kenya.

I first discovered details about this case in 2014, and it was on the 22nd of July 2014 that I began tweeting about it (and have done frequently since), baffled at the lack of media coverage. As I carried out further research I came across reports about two British men who had also been involved in child sex abuse in East Africa, while both cases had received some media coverage, it had gained little traction.

Between 2012 and 2014 Matthew Durham travelled to Kenya four times to volunteer at Upendo Children’s Home, an orphanage in Nairobi founded by a Kenyan American couple who recruit volunteers from church communities in Oklahoma. In June 2014 a caretaker at the children’s home noticed unusual behaviour on the part of Durham (particularly in regards to his physical interaction with kids under his care). Investigating this further she approached a number of the children whose testimonies confirmed that Matthew Durham had been sexually abusing them. The founder of the home was alerted and five days later confronted Durham who after initial denials, provided details of his engaging in acts of a sexual nature with the children. ...


This article was written by Samira Sawlani and was published by Media Diversified on 10.3.16. You can read the full article here.


Inspired by our participation with the Write to End Violence Against Women awards organised by Zero Tolerance, we are now collecting examples of good journalism about domestic and sexual violence and abuse to make it clear that it is possible to write about DSVA without resorting to myths, misrepresentations, minimisation and victim blaming.

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