Fatou Toufa Jallow

A 23-year-old former beauty queen has explained how former president Yahya Jammeh groomed and raped her after she won the July 22nd Beauty Pageant.

Fatou Toufa Jallow told the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission on Thursday that Jammeh raped her at the State House during a religious ceremony known locally as the Gamo.

Ms Jallow, who waived her anonymity to encourage other women to speak out about sexual abuses, gave a harrowing account of the night Jammeh sexually abused her.

Toufa as she is fondly called was 19 years old at the time.

She said she was driven to the State House on the orders of Jammeh adding that on arrival Jimbe, a close aide of Jammeh, ushered her in a room.

She said after a while Jimbe left the room leaving her alone.

“Out of nowhere, the former President walked in, his eyes were very red.

“That scared me for a second. I greeted him but he did not respond. He told me “who do you think you are?” He pulled his hand to get on to me and held me on my arm. He pushed me and opened a brown door and locked the door.

Former president Yahya Jammeh

“He pulled my dress up and he was just saying things … he penetrated me but before he did, he took a needle out of his pocket and injected me.

“As he pushed his penis inside me with my face slushed into the pillow and with all this happening, I could hear the Quranic recitation from the ‘Gamo’ and he (Jammeh) was sweating a lot.

“Yahya Jammeh sodomised me what I mean is he took his penis and put it into my anus instead of my virgina that is what sodomy means and while he was doing this, he was so comfortable.

“Jammeh said let’s see if you are a virgin, I swear to God I was scared and I was apologising (and begging) please don’t do this and he held my hands and pulled his pants down and started rubbing his genital on my face, I had a dress on and a leggings underneath.”

Ms Jallow said Jammeh’s actions was motivated by the desire to hurt her.

She said Jammeh had called her stubborn due to her refusal to accept his sexual advances and marriage proposals.

“Jammeh didn’t want to have a sex with me to get pleasure, what he wanted to do was to hurt me, what he wanted to do was to teach me a lesson with his ego because he has no respect for humanity”.

The former beauty queen said she participated in the July 22nd Beauty Pageant due to its format which stressed education.

The pageant was sponsored by the former president Yahya Jammeh who had been championing girls education.

Ms Jallow said when she won the pageant she was given along with the runner up Awa Jammeh D200,000 each and the rest of the contestants received D100,000 with laptops, iPad and other accessories.

She said she was invited to the State House after the pageant along with the other contestants.

Ms Jallow said Jammeh told them that he watched the beauty pageant and was impressed with their performances, adding that he advised them to concentrate on their education.

“President Jammeh gave me D50,000 and he gave the other girls money but I don’t know the amount,” she said.

She said during their meeting with the former President, he gave her black liquid medicine in a bottle to ease her menstrual pain.

“He gave me a medicine which was black in a bottle and told me this is good for stomach cramps, it was like a charcoal.”

Ms Jallow said she fled to Senegal after her sexual assault and was granted asylum in Canada with the help of the UNHRC.

Reporting by Adama Makasuba

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