Ms. Jallow, popularly known as Fatou "Toufah", a 23-year-old former beauty pageant winner from the Gambia, is the first woman to publicly come out and say that she was raped by Yahya Jammeh, who happens to be the former president of The Gambia. Ms. Jallow's confession happens to be a milestone by the Humans Rights Watch that has been pushing for the agenda of having the ex-president brought to book following other sexual assault allegation.
According to her testimony that was made through an interview with The Human Rights Watch and Trial International, the former beauty queen said, "I decided to speak now because it is time to tell the story and to make sure that Yahya Jammeh hears what he has done." She said this in Canada, which happens to be her current home ever since she fled from the barbaric hands of the sex predator.
The first meeting
Fatou Jallow reminiscence five years back, in 2014, when she was 18 years old and had been pronounced as the winner of the "2014 Miss July 22nd Beauty and Scholarship Pageant. The then president of Gambia crowned the beauty after addressing her and the rest of the contestants. Yahya told the beauty contestants not to rush to marriage but instead use the scholarship opportunity to change their lives and achieve their dreams.
Jallow goes to the statehouse
No sooner had the ceremony come to an end than Jammeh started summoning the beauty queen to his presidential residence. During the first meeting in the Gambia's State House, the ex-president asked Fatou Jallow's hand in marriage. This seemed ironical to the beauty queen based on the speech given by the president during the crowning ceremony.
Yahya rapes Jallow
Fatou declined the president's request hence saying no to marriage. According to her, I thought it was a joke,' Fatou said. "I was very naïve. I didn't know how brutal he was." During a Ramadan dinner celebration, the beauty was once again summoned to the Gambia's State House. According to Fatou, she thought that the meeting was based on the then Ramadan celebration where she, as the beauty queen, was required to attend. The shock on her, the ex-Gambia president took advantage of her and raped her.
According to her confession about that dark day, she said, "Reality hit me that this is my new identity," she said. "I'm just this girl the president will call and pick up and rape. Everything I wanted to be, every potential and reason why I even went into this competition, all of that was shoved into the dumpster." She added that, "He rubbed his genitals in my face, pushed me down to my knees, pulled my dress up and sodomized me."
Fleeing to Canada
After the horrifying act of rape, the young lady said that she went home where she would hide for three consecutive days. A thought came to her mind, and she decided to run away from Equatorial Guinea to Senegal, which happens to be a neighboring country.
In the capital city of Senegal, Dakar, the former beauty queen decide to seek help from the different non-governmental organizations that focused on human rights. After several weeks, she managed to get protection from the organizations which moved her to Canada, which has been her home until now.
Yahya denies rape allegations
According to a BBC report where the broadcasting company tried to reach the former president who is currently living in exile in Equatorial Guinea, Jammeh, through his spokesman Ousman Rambo Jatta denied the sexual allegations. According to the spokesman message to BBC, "We as a party and The Gambian people are tired of the steady stream of unfounded allegations that have been reported against our ex-president."
Additional, APRC deputy leader also came out defending the former president by saying, "The ex-president has no time to react to lies and smear campaigns. He is a very respectable God-fearing and pious leader who has nothing but respect for our Gambian women."
A recap on Mr. Jammeh
- At the age of 29 years, he managed to take power in Ghana through a successful coup in the year 1994
- He vowed that he would remain in power for as long as God wants him to. Jammeh stated that he would be the president for "a billion years."
- He showcased his brutality by murdering any opponents to his political ambitions and jailed criminals through death row
- He stated that he could treat and cure AIDS through his herbal body rub mixed with other concoctions
- In 2008, he declared that he would behead any person believed to be gay
- Through his death squad, Deyda Hydara was murdered in cold blood for covering and exposing his evil leadership
- In 2007, he was forced out of power. This was through the efforts of regional authorities following his election defeat in 2016
- The ex-president is currently an exile living in Equatorial Guinea
Mr. Jammeh v Ms. Jallow
The beauty stated that she seeks justice by willing to appear in the same court hearing with Mr. Yahya, so that justice may be served on what he did to her. The lady also looks forward to appearing before the Gambia's Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission (TRRC).
The current president of Gambia, Adama Barrow, launched a "Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission," aimed at filling all the cases that involve injustices by the former government leaders and government soldiers. The TRRC primarily focuses on women, who were raped and abused following the imprisonments of their husbands by the dictator.
According to Baba Jallow, who happens to be the TRRC Executive Secretary, TRRC, which is 8 months old, will start analyzing the sexual violence by the former president on September 2019. Baba said, "We are aware of allegations involving Jammeh, but we have not heard victims on the record yet. Investigations have already started, but at this stage, we can't say who is involved and how many victims there are."
In what happens to be a breakthrough in The Gambia people in achieving justice of all the injustice practiced by Gambia's ex-President Jammeh and his death squad, Ms. Jallow's confession on rape provides a new chapter to the Gambia's Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) trials. As a role model and the first woman to publicly come out concerning the matter, she said, "It's a step-by-step thing, and the first part is to acknowledge it happened." She added that "When many other women speak up and it becomes safer and safer".