A Beauty Queen Accuses Former Gambian President Jammeh of Rape: ‘I Literally Stumbled Out of There’
Fatou Jallow, who won a beauty pageant in Gambia in 2014, says she was raped by Yahya Jammeh, then the nation’s president.
DAKAR, Senegal — Five years ago, the president of Gambia crowned 18-year-old Fatou Jallow the winner of the nation’s top beauty pageant with a lecture to her and other contestants: Do not rush to marry, he said, but use the pageant’s scholarship prize to fulfill your dreams.
But the president, Yahya Jammeh, soon began summoning the pageant winner to Gambia’s Statehouse, and eventually asked her to marry him. She said no.
“I thought it was a joke,’’ Ms. Jallow said. “I was very naïve. I didn’t know how brutal he was.”
When he summoned her yet again, for what she thought was a Ramadan event, she said he raped her.
“Reality hit me that this is my new identity,’’ she said. “I’m just this girl the president will call and pick up and rape. Everything I wanted to be, every potential and reason why I even went into this competition, all of that was shoved into the dumpster.”