Senegal’s New Government Is Bad News for Women’s Rights

Senegal’s New Government Is Bad News for Women’s Rights
Bassirou Diomaye Faye holds a press conference after winning the presidential election, in Dakar, Senegal, March 25, 2024 (AP photo by Mosa’ab Elshamy).

“If I wanted to rape a woman, I wouldn’t choose a brain-damaged monkey.” Just over a year ago, Senegal’s recently installed prime minister, Ousmane Sonko, made this shocking comment in reference to Adji Sarr, who accused Sonko of rape in 2021. The case derailed Sonko’s presidential ambitions, triggered massive protests and contributed to a crisis that pushed the country to the breaking point earlier this year.

Senegal’s democracy managed to survive. In March, Bassirou Diomaye Faye—a close ally and longtime friend of Sonko—was elected president and immediately named Sonko as prime minister.

But in the outpouring of hope and support that has accompanied the accession of Senegal’s new government, the fact that Sonko’s comments from a year ago have been widely forgotten underscore one of its major shortcomings: women’s rights and gender equality.

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