DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Toufah Jallow’s name resonates deeply in Gambia as considered one of the most few ladies who has taken a public stand in opposition to sexual assault within the exiguous West African deliver.
She won reputation on the age of 18 when she obtained a college scholarship in a nationwide abilities competition for youthful ladies. Nonetheless in 2015 she fled Gambia, fearing for her life, after dictator Yahya Jammeh allegedly drugged and raped her, infected that she had turned down his marriage proposal.
She lived quietly in Canada, disturbed that Jammeh would persecute family in Gambia. After Jammeh fell from energy she later stumbled on the energy to bolt public along with her memoir, despite Gambia’s custom of silence over sexual assault, she instructed The Connected Press.
The nation used to be riveted when she held a press conference to half her legend via social media and in a human rights file in June 2019. She additionally testified months later to the Reality and Reconciliation Commission.
Now, Jallow is telling her memoir in detail in a newly released memoir: “Toufah: The Woman Who Impressed an African #MeToo Motion.”
“In June 2015, Yahya Jammeh, then the president of The Gambia, raped me. He has never been charged. By no intention convicted … He notion he would bag away with it, tried to erase me. I believed I might perchance perchance never keep in touch of it, that I might perchance perchance remain invisible. We had been both cross, because I am right here, colorful esteem the morning time of the melanated flee,” she writes. “I am Toufah Jallow. Here’s my memoir.”
In the book, co-written with journalist Kim Pattaway, Jallow describes her tear from the daughter and granddaughter of ladies who in their occupy intention pushed in opposition to the country’s patriarchy to the evening of her alleged rape and her anxious ride and the ensuing traumas and challenges.
Jallow acknowledged she desires to be a aim model for others who have skilled sexual assault and to aid them take care of it.
“I needed to create my life as relatable to younger ladies as attainable so (they ogle) that what I did is achievable (and) will not be any longer considered as a miracle,” she acknowledged. “It takes a normal lady who grew up in a village someplace in The Gambia with a mother and with 20 siblings in a polygamous dwelling.”
Coming from a humble background, Jallow used to be swept into a high-profile aim attributable to her scholarship, attending many public occasions with then-president Jammeh. After receiving offers from Jammeh, who used to be already married, and rejecting his proposal to turn into considered one of his other halves, Jallow used to be lured to the president’s non-public quarters, where she says he drugged and raped her.
Jammeh hasn’t reacted, however his occasion has denied every little thing.
Jallow didn’t recount a soul in Gambia, fearing the worst for herself and her family. She knew there had been tons of of individuals who had been arrested for brave to request Jammeh.
Jumpy, Jallow fled Gambia. She hid her identification by wearing a niqab (head-to-toe veil) so as that deliver agents wouldn’t witness her. She went to Senegal and with the aid of trusted allies made it to Canada where she now lives.
For years, no person in Gambia knew what had came about to Jallow. She lived as a refugee in Canada, working spellbinding jobs to improve her lessons.
“For the longest time … I might perchance perchance always shove it aside,” she acknowledged of her trauma. Nonetheless seeing statistics for sexual assault with so few being held to blame her. “I haven’t felt extra invisible,” she acknowledged of that length.
Talking about sex and sexuality, “it’s moral no longer carried out,” in Gambia, she acknowledged. There just will not be any longer even a observe for rape in her native Fula language, she explained to AP. Instead people employ phrases esteem “Somebody fell on me.”
Jammeh misplaced elections and fled the country in 2017. Gambia then opened a Reality and Reconciliation Commission to examine the stories of abuses and killings all the intention via his 22-one year rule.
When Jallow came forward in 2019 about her assault, it unleashed a motion. Extra than 50,000 people had been glued to social media when she first spoke. Females then marched preserving banners announcing “#IAmToufah” and there used to be an outpouring of others’ experiences of rape.
Jallow speaking out used to be a “wind of change” in Gambia, acknowledged Marion Volkmann-Brandau, a ladies’s rights activist who helped manual Jallow and led the human rights investigation into sexual assault in Gambia that saw her near forward.
“There used to be this moment of improve … ladies popping out in general about rape and having a memoir to half confirmed they weren’t invisible anymore,” she acknowledged. “Gambians realized too how frequent the scenario used to be.”
That hope, however, has unfortunately dwindled, Volkmann-Brandau acknowledged, as the appropriate kind machine can should always composed be reformed in exclaim to take sexual assault severely.
Nonetheless the groundwork has been laid and Jallow has began the Toufah Basis, organize to aid improve of survivors of sexual assault in Gambia. Her purpose is to have Gambia’s first entirely functioning ladies’s safe haven.
Her name is now outmoded to keep in touch about rape in communities as soon as unable to focus on it.
She travels to Gambia in most cases, while studying in Canada to be a counselor for ladies and younger people victims, and is additionally engaged on a documentary that follows survivors of sexual violence.
And if Jammeh returns to Gambia, Jallow says she’s going to flee there to confront him.
“I feel esteem I am too visible to be invisible anymore,” she acknowledged. “I have confronted the worst misfortune … I have survived him bodily.”