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Beauty Queen: Gambia's Ex-Dictator Raped Me

Fatou 'Toufah' Jallow says sexual assault at hands of Yahya Jammeh happened 4 years ago
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2019 11:31 AM CDT
In this Sept. 25, 2014, file photo, Gambia's then-President Yahya Jammeh is seen at United Nations headquarters.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

(Newser) – A Gambian beauty pageant winner has accused former dictator Yahya Jammeh of raping her four years ago, the latest allegation of abuses committed by the ex-president now living in exile in Equatorial Guinea. Fatou "Toufah" Jallow, now 23, said she plans to testify later this year before Gambia's truth and reconciliation commission, which is investigating abuses committed under the Jammeh regime, per the AP. The dictator of more than two decades is accused of ordering opponents tortured, jailed, and killed. The sexual abuse allegations raised by Jallow and others directly implicate him in personally committing violence against Gambians. Jallow and other young women interviewed by Human Rights Watch say the president was a sexual predator who coerced young women into sexual relationships by promising scholarships and even putting some on the state payroll.

Jallow said the president began lavishing gifts on her and her family after meeting her when she was crowned queen of the Miss July 22 Pageant as an 18-year-old in 2014. She said Jammeh later asked for her hand in marriage, and after she declined, he told her that as the pageant winner she had to attend an event at his official residence. Once there, she said he told her, "No woman has ever rejected me. And who do you think you are?" As she tried to leave, Jallow said the president threatened to kill her. The president then drugged and raped her before she blacked out, she said. Several days later she told her family she was going to the market to shop, then fled to neighboring Senegal; she has since been granted asylum in Canada. After initially refusing to accept his defeat in 2016 to now President Adama Barrow, Jammeh stepped down and fled to Equatorial Guinea. (Read more Gambia stories.)

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