Ex-Beauty Queen ‘Accuses Former President of Rape

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Fatou Jallow, who won a beauty pageant in Gambia in 2014, says she was raped by Yahya Jammeh, then the nation’s president.

After 22 years in power, Jammeh was ousted by fellow leaders in the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), in January 2017, with Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari playing a pivotal role.

Her testimony is part of a Human Rights Watch and Trial International report that details another alleged rape and sexual assault by Mr Jammeh.

“He rubbed his genitals in my face, pushed me down to my knees, pulled my dress up and sodomized me.” She said he was tempered into the act because she had earlier rejected a marriage proposal from him. Jallo said the ordeal began when she won a beauty pageant in Banjul, the country’s capital at the age of 18 in 2014. She recounted that Jammeh acted like a father in the months which followed. He gave her gifts and money, as well as getting running water installed in her family home. At a dinner organized by an aide of the president, Jallow said Jammeh now 54, asked her to marry him. She would go on rebuffing other enticements. In June 2015, the said aid insisted that she attends a religious ceremony at State House in her role as a beauty queen. 

She said she was taken to Jammeh’s private residence: “It was clear what this was going to be,” she said, remembering the anger in the exiled Jammeh who became president after a military coup when he was 29. Fatou Jallow said she had tried to keep this memory to her self but found it impossible to bury anymore:

“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 Yaya 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 BBC reports.

“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,” Rambo Jatta Ousman, Deputy Leader of Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC, said in a written statement to the BBC in denial ofJallow’s claims.

“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 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, now 23, received asylum in Canada in 2015, and she is scheduled to testify before the commission during hearings on sexual violence later this year.

“Part of what he did was to break me and shut me down,” Ms. Jallow said in an interview. “I want him to hear me loud and clear. He can’t bury it.”

Yahya Jammeh: At a glance

Seized power in a coup in 1994 aged 29

In 2013, he vowed to stay in power for “a billion years” if God wills

He also ordered the execution of criminals and political opponents on death row

Claimed in 2007 he could cure Aids and infertility with herbal concoctions

Warned in 2008 that gay people would be beheaded

Denied his security agents killed journalist Deyda Hydara in 2004

Forced from power in January 2017 by regional powers after losing elections in 2016

Living in exile in Equatorial Guinea

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