Gambia women and girls have been left speechless and living in fear after another tragic rape case has cost one Marie Mendy’s life in The Gambia. According to The Gambia Police Force, the alleged rapist was also found death believing him to have committed suicide. The matter is currently under police investigation.
In the Gambia, one in every three women is physically or sexually assaulted in her lifetime. This record has been a concern for many years among feminists and girl’s rights fighters. One of the most potent tools the feminist– use to create awareness about girls’ rights and encourage girls always to speak up and stand for themself, more so, for girls to be their sister’s keepers.
It is evident that this is not the first time rape allegations are making to front pages of newspapers and television news bulleting headlines–but what scary is how frequent it is becoming. This has led fear to grip the Gambian society, especially girls, who are feel no more safe in the country.
Since the incident took place on Wednesday, Gambians have expressed their fear public on various social media platforms.
In a statement issued by Equal Now on their official Facebook page, the Girl’s Rights Organization–challenged the government to “show up for women and girls now and save Gambian women.”
“This again goes to the lack of safety and protection for women and girls in The Gambia. How many more rape cases will women and girls experience? How many more lives will be lost?” The Organization wrote.
Many times, in Africa, we’ve seen cases where mental health is blame for rape cases and killing. However, the journalism student association president–University of The Gambia, Mamud Kifa, disagrees that serious matters like this might be tied to mental illness. He wrote on his Facebook page:
“I am not sure of everyone else’s opinion, but trying to blame this on “mental ill” is sickening. To me, this is taking away the fact that he did something horrendous. Yes, mental illness is a huge issue, but the context needs to be monitored on how the word is used. Mental health is not something we can use to justify his behavior.”
Real estate mogul Saul Frazer–also showed up for the girls through his Facebook handle, saying:
“A young lady with a bright future was raped in her house and killed in her house by someone she knew. Girls are not safe in our country, and this should change. Rapists have no place In our society.”
What Happen To The Community Outreaches And Laws In Place?
The Gambia, like many other African countries, spends thousands of dollars to create awareness on rape and gender-based violence in general. Also, rape is a crime, but if that the cause, Why are the figures increasing.?
When girls overcome the fear of societal myths and speak up about rape, they also have to deal with the “innocent until guilty verdict,” which sometimes lasts longer than expected. During these waiting times, victims are often subjected to bullying, blaming, and shaming, especially on social media platforms causing many girls to leave their pain under the pillow.
In this light, The women’s Rights Leader -Oley Dibba-Wadda twittered:
“The rampant rise in rape cases s getting scary. There should be zero tolerance on rap in The Gambia. We can no longer stand aside &wait for the innocent until proven guilty verdict”.
The rampant rise in rape cases is getting scary. There should be zero tolerance on rape in #TheGambia. We can no longer stand aside & wait for "innocent until proven guilty" verdict. The psychological aftermath is equally damaging to the victim.#NoToRape #ViolenceAgainstWomen— Oley Dibba-Wadda (@OleyDibbaWadda) April 7, 2021
Recent reports have shown the increased rate of rape and femicide cases across Africa since the beginning of the covid 19 pandemic. Countries like South Africa declared femicide alongside Covid 19 as another pandemic in the country after “21 women and girls were murdered within a week”.
According to an article published by The Chronicle Gambia, in 2020, The Gambia recorded 1,068 cases of sexual violence that nearly match a four-year national data on SGBV by the Network against Gender-based violence Gambia.