Posted by News Express | 26 June 2019 | 3,925 times
A 23-year-old former beauty queen in The Gambia, Toufah Jallow, has said she was raped in 2015 by ex-President Yahya Jammeh when he was in office.
Her testimony is part of a Human Rights Watch and Trial International report that details another alleged rape and sexual assault by Mr Jammeh.
The BBC tried to contact Mr Jammeh, who now lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea, about the allegations.
A spokesman for his APRC party denied the accusations made against Mr Jammeh.
“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,” said Ousman Rambo Jatta, in a written statement to the BBC.
“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,” the deputy APRC leader said.
Ms Jallow told the BBC she wanted to meet Mr Jammeh, 54, in court so he could face justice.
“I’ve really tried to hide the story and erase it and make sure it’s not part of me.
“Realistically I couldn’t so I decided to speak now because it is time to tell the story and to make sure that Yayha Jammeh hears what he has done.”
She said she also wanted to testify before The Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), which has been set up by President Adama Barrow, who won elections in December 2016.
The TTRC is investigating human rights violations alleged to have been committed during Mr Jammeh’s 22-year rule, including reports of extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary detention.
He was forced from office in January 2017 after regional powers sent in troops when he refused to give up power.
Ms Jallow said she was 18 when she met Mr Jammeh after winning a beauty pageant in 2014 in the capital, Banjul.
In the months following her coronation, she said the former president acted as a father figure when they met, offering her advice, gifts and money, and also organising for running water to be installed in her family home.
Then at a dinner organised by an aide to the president, she says he asked her to marry him. She refused and rebuffed other enticements from the aide to agree to the offer.
Ms Jallow said the aide then insisted she attend a religious ceremony at State House in her role as beauty queen in June 2015. But when she arrived, she was taken to the president’s private residence.
“It was clear what this was going to be,” she said, describing Mr Jammeh’s anger at her for rejecting him.
Ms Jallow says he slapped her and injected her in her arm with a needle.
“He rubbed his genitals in my face, pushed me down to my knees, pulled my dress up and sodomised me.”
The young woman says afterwards she locked herself at home for three days and then decided to flee to neighbouring Senegal.
Once in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, Ms Jallow sought the assistance of various human rights organisations. Weeks later, she was approved protection status and moved to Canada, where she has been living since.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Trial International say Mr Jammeh had a system in place to abuse women, where some were put on the state payroll and worked at State House as so-called “protocol girls”, who had some clerical duties but were mainly on call to have sex with the president.
The BBC could not verify the allegation, but a former Gambian official, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, said he was aware of “inappropriate things” happening at the presidency: “Protocol staff were mostly women and they were hired to satisfy the president’s fantasies.”
He remembered seeing Ms Jallow at State House, sometimes at “odd hours”. (BBC)
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