By Abdoulie John

In wake of a call made by Gambia Justice Minister for victims of sexual violence to come forward and tell their story, Fatou “Toufah” Jallow has deplored the absence of victim-friendly environment in the country’s police stations where people can openly report cases of rape or child sex abuses.

“There is no safe space in our police stations for victims of rape to open up to investigators,” Toufah told journalists Friday during a news conference held at African Princess Hotel in Kotu, some 10 km away from Banjul.

An investigation by Human Rights Watch (HRW) has uncovered that ex-dictator Jammeh subjected many women to sexual abuses. One of the victim, Fatou “Toufah” Jallow, 23, took the decision to waive her anonymity in order to end the culture of silence surrounding rape cases in the country.

Toufah made it clear that Police facilities discourage victims of sexual violence to tell their story as the environment is not safe and supportive.

Police stations are built on an all-in-one architectural design with the front desk facing the main entrance. The building also accommodates offices and cells for lawbreakers. Statements are often taken under the watch of detained lawbreakers…

Meanwhile, Reed Brody, a senior counsel at Human Rights Watch (HRW), revealed that Yahya Jammeh used State resources to satisfy his ‘sexual appetite.’

“Some women were put on State payroll to facilitate Jammeh’s sexual abuses,” said Reed Brody in an preliminary statement delivered at the press conference.

Jammeh who ruled the country for two decades is now enjoying a golden exile in Equatorial Guinea following his electoral defeat in December 2016.

Brody said Jammeh gave these women cash and gifts and promised them scholarship in exchange for sex.

“A former top aide to Jammeh told us that Jammeh handpicked young women to satisfy his sexual desire,” he added.

In light of the scheme set up by former longtime ruler, HRW’s Reed Brody unequivocally stated that Yahya Jammeh treated the women of Gambia like his personal property. But he was quick to add: “They were not his property. Rape is a crime and Yahya Jammeh is not above the law.”

Ends

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