The Chronicle Gambia

Justice Minister Commends Fatou Jallow for Speaking Up About Her Alleged Rape by Jammeh

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubacarr M. Tambadou has commended the courage of Fatou Jallow, a former beauty queen who said she was raped by former president Yahya Jammeh during his presidency.

Ms Jallow this week granted interviews to media outlets including The Chronicle and NY Times to publicly talk about the issue. At the age of 18, she became the 2014 winner of the state-sponsored July 22nd beauty pageant, which Jammeh lauded as “a means to empower girls.” According to her testimony documented by Human Rights Watch and Trial International, Jammeh lavished her with a $1,250 prize and other gifts, and had running water installed at her family’s house outside of Banjul.

Fatou Jallow shook hands with Jammeh after she won the July 22 beauty pageant

“He offered her a position as a “protocol girl,” which she declined. He asked her to marry him, which she also refused.”

She said that after aides brought her to attend a pre-Ramadan Quran recital at State House, he locked her in a room and told her: “There’s no woman that I want that I cannot have.” She said that he then hit and taunted her, injected her with a liquid, and raped her. Days later, she fled to neighboring Senegal.

In a statement Wednesday, Minister Tambadou saluted “the courage of Ms Jallow for speaking up and sharing her story with the world and for exposing yet another serious allegation of reprehensible conduct by former President Jammeh who abused his position as head of state to the detriment of many Gambians including the sexual assault of Ms Jallow, a young and brave girl.”

He called upon all women and girls in the country to emulate Ms Jallow by speaking up about their own experiences with former President Jammeh and to do so in any manner that they see fit. including through testimony before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC).

Justice Minister Tambadou

“It is only through speaking up and exposing such despicable acts especially by those in positions of power can we effectively combat the scourge and menace of sexual violence against women and girls in our society,” said Tambadou.

According to Reed Brody, counsel at Human Rights Watch who led the investigation, “Yahya Jammeh treated Gambian women like his personal property,” adding “rape and sexual assault are crimes, and Jammeh is not above the law.”

Human Rights Watch and TRIAL interviewed three women, including Ms Jallow who accuse Jammeh of rape and sexual assault, and a fourth woman who said that Jammeh’s aides confined her in an apparent set-up for sexual abuse. The organizations also interviewed eight former Gambian officials and several other witnesses.

Editor’s Note: The Chronicle’s exclusive video interview with Fatou Jallow will be broadcast on our Youtube channel later on Thursday.

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