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Gambia’s former president, Yahya Jammeh, addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Gambia’s former president, Yahya Jammeh, addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters, in New York, Sept. 25, 2014 (AP photo by Frank Franklin II).

Can Gambia’s #MeToo Movement Help Bring Yahya Jammeh to Justice?

Thursday, July 11, 2019

It had long been an open secret in Gambia that former President Yahya Jammeh hand-picked young women to work in his office as so-called protocol girls whom he harassed and abused. That changed last month when Fatou Jallow, a former beauty queen known in Gambia as Toufah, became the first person to publicly accuse the exiled dictator of rape.

Her testimony, told to investigators from Human Rights Watch and Trial International, has sparked an overdue reckoning in Gambia, where women have begun sharing stories of sexual assault on social media with the hashtag #IAmToufah. Last week, more than 200 young activists marched in Gambia’s capital, Banjul, calling to break the silence on sexual violence that became endemic during Jammeh’s 22-year regime. This nascent #MeToo movement comes as Gambia is attempting to deal with its painful past through a Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission that began in January. ...

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