We need to do better at protecting black children from foreign men who come to prey on them in the name of “doing good”.
Last week we were sent this image of Mr. Daniel Illescas, a Spanish model from Madrid, laying shirtless with a small Kenyan girl who he seems to have an affinity for. The child he refers to as “xxxx” (name redacted for child’s privacy) is not new to his instagram feed. We have had concerns about this man and his conduct with children at an orphanage in Kenya for a while now, after being sent content posted to his Instagram highlight labeled “My Princess”.
It’s not hard to imagine the kind of alarms it would set off if we replaced xxxx with a shirtless white girl that Daniel claimed to be helping. Instagram would take seriously the reports of such content and it is likely that Mr. Illescas would be investigated for what so many of us are concerned is a deeply inappropriate relationship. It is high time we start seeing Black children protected in the same way the world safe-guards white children.
Unfortunately, our concerns are rooted in a number of examples where foreign men come into African countries under the guise of charity work when in reality, there motivation is to prey on some of our most vulnerable. When it comes to child sexual abuse, there is already a power dynamic between the abuser and the victim. In these cases, the power dynamic is compounded by the implicit trust given to whiteness. These predators come into countries with already weak child protection systems, knowing that they can get away with violent sexual crimes against children that they would much more easily be punished for in their home countries.
Taking advantage of already vulnerable children, knowing that they need the help that you are there to provide and that the community will not question you, is quite possibly one of the most sinister forms of the white savior complex. In 2004 this article was published with The Guardian,European pedophiles flock to Gambian “Smiling Coast” and just recently, news has spread that, allegedly, things have not improved as there are still many European men going to The Gambia to sexually abuse some of the country’s most vulnerable children.
Presently, in Uganda, we have been working alongside of authorities and local activists to hold a German national by the names, Bery Glaser, accountable for trafficking and sexually abusing young Ugandan girls in Kalangala. There is so much evidence incriminating Mr. Glaser, that he has been denied bail multiple times and has been sitting in jail in Masaka District for the last several months. For more on this story you can read, German national in Uganda being hunted by police for sexually abusing girls in his care.
There have been many other stories just like these, where paedophiles come to the Continent, often in the name of doing good, only to harm children in one of the worst ways imaginable. There was 60 year old Gregory Dow, an American national, who is now doing time in a Pennsylvania prison for his violent sexual crimes against Kenyan children in the orphanage he himself set up. Then there was Matthew Lane, a 21 year old Oklahoma missionary, doing life in prison also for sexually abusing children at an orphanage he went to volunteer at in Kenya.
You may also remember Simon Wood, a British Airways pilot, who committed suicide after it was revealed he had been sexually abusing children in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. He would come with musical instruments to “volunteer” at orphanages here, all while preying on the very children he claimed to be helping. You can read more on this story here, British Airways ‘abuse’ pilot Simon Wood ‘took his own life’.
Of course, there are issues of child sexual abuse in every country and community, we need to put protections in place to keep our children safe from all predators. What we are trying to drive home here is the fact that monsters looking to prey on our children come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Those we mentioned above are all different ages; some religious, some not; they come from different countries and with varied stated purposes. What is made worse in these situations, is that we on the Continent have internalised that what is white is inherently good. We don’t ever doubt its motives because we believe white unquestionable. What must change is the inherent trust and access given to white people who step foot on the African continent. We should be asking questions, strengthening our systems and holding white people accountable on individual and institutional levels.
While our resources as a team are limited, we would like to know about any similar cases you are aware of. There are many sexual predators currently harming children in our communities who have yet to be held accountable. If you would like to report any concerns, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org