“Hear our cries, hear the cries of the mothers” - Fatoumata Fatty
Please hear our cries, hear the cries of the mothers.
It is with great sadness that I, Fatoumata Fatty write this piece addressing to all government bodies and NGOs, on behalf of all mothers, guardians and girls of our beloved country.
I am sincerely appealing to the government of the Gambia and all security personnels to help us in controlling the rape and kidnap cases amongst our young ones especially GIRLS. I see no point in writing something which is not true or clear to me, for my own 4 years old daughter was a victim.
As a parent or guardian, it hurts to see or hear that a child is raped or kidnapped especially your own child. Death would have been the only option than your child being raped or kidnapped, or in the hands of an unknown, not knowing the trauma and brutalities he or she might be going through.
My 4 year old daughter was missing earlier this year. Upon seeing her, she was so scared and looks so statled, she could not say anything at the moment. We took her to Bundung Police Station to report the matter, statements were taken, after she was escorted for check up at the Bundung Maternal and Child Health Hospital. Alhamdulilah, she was fine, not RAPED but ATTEMPTED.
No investigation or follow up was made by the police since then. The following day after the incident when she was a relieved, she started narrating all what the boy did to her and where he took her, as she was narrating, my mom was recording her without her notice, the audio still remains with me as evidence.
28th of August, 2020 at exactly around 5 - 6 pm, I was sitting in my shop on the Bundung Highway, when I suddenly noticed a boy talking to a girl of age around 9 - 10 years with harshness. Then, I stood up to see what was going on, although I could not hear what the boy was telling the little girl, he continued going as she also continued following him. One boy (name withheld) was on a bicycle standing at my shop door, I asked if he knows the boy or the girl, he said no but maybe they are in the same path, I said to him NO, it doesn't seem they are even related.
I stood on the highway watching the boy going with the girl as I was shouting calling the little girl but she couldn't hear me due to the traffic. Then I told the boy with the bicycle to run after them and call the girl for me, which he did, still I was standing at my shop watching them. Instead of the boy coming straight to me, he crossed the road and headed to one pounding shop calling me to go there instead, I insist and told him that my shop is not locked and I needed the girl and not him knowing fully that he will surely come with the girl. Then with haste, he came with the little girl and met me standing on the highway.
I hold the girl from the back and silently whispered to her "where are you from" she replied crying saying she is from Tabokoto, the boy standing listening all ears rushed and said to me that the little girl is lying, she is not from tabokoto, that he knows where the girl lives and that I should let him go with the girl. I told him NO, I went and sat down with the little girl trying to question her well, but she was trembling and crying in shyness.
The boy started explaining that the little girl wanted to buy millet powder and claimed he is only trying to help. He claimed one boy by the name "rasta" in Latrikunda taxi garage is the one who asked him to help the girl. I told him that if really he is helping the girl as he claimed, why did he continue going with the girl? The little girl confirmed the boy has been roaming her since and that her mother sent her to buy millet powder. The boy must have played trick on her telling her that he has millet powder for sale.
Whilst the place was crowded, I told the crowd to control the boy for me and let him not escape whilst I take the girl to the station. Upon leaving for the station, he, the accused told me that he wants to go with me, I insisted and told him that if he got money for fare to pay for himself because I will not pay for him, but I was scared he would escape along the way because I cannot control him as a woman.
Upon arrival at the station, I met one policeman and then explained to him what I witnessed, letting him know that I was there earlier this year for a similar case. I was asked if I know the girl or the boy and I said NO, then my statement was taken. I was escorted by some police officers in a pick up to go for the boy. As we are arriving at my shop, some policemen in the vehicle lamented that the boy is not mentally stable. Huh, that might be true or not but the boy is fully aware of what he is doing and saying.
We all boarded the vehicle and went to the station. At the station, one police woman asked the boy what had happened and the boy started explaining that he is trying to help the little girl buy millet powder. He claimed he was asked by one " Omar" at Latrikunda to help the girl. Whilst at first he said he was asked by the name "rasta" to help the poor little girl. I told the officer that the boy never mentioned any name like Omar to me. Whilst he ( the accused) was explaining, he mentioned something saying I (the witness) thought he wanted to kidnap or rape the girl. The question here is how did he read my mind? Is he thinking the same? What made him think that?
I cried heavily explaining to the officer how sad it is seeing bad people committing crimes and yet people claimed they are mad. I looked at the boy with shock wondering if a MAD PERSON will be in that position to give all that clear details, talkless of giving a correct and clear phone number to call the "Omar" he said was the one who asked him to help. The officer called the number and it was Omar. According to the police woman, what Omar and the accused explained are all the same. Yes, that might be true, but who knows if they are in this together. If the accused is really a MAD PERSON, why would Omar asked him to go with the child for help? Can't the police invite Omar for proper investigations?
Unfornately, there was one man in the cell who recognized the girl and confirm she lives in Tabokoto. The police women in the presence of the accused were saying if the child's mother comes they will address the mother thoroughly. Should that statement be made in the presence of the accused? Are those not words of encouragement to the accused?
I was asked to go home and that they will call me if they need me.
I was longing for there call, they did not call, I called the police woman some minutes after 10pm asking about the situation. She confirmed to me that the girl's parents came for her, and when I asked about the boy, hmmm to my surprise, she told me the boy also left, meaning he has been realised without proper investigation. I was speechless and shocked, thinking how many girls could be kidnapped or raped by the ones we claimed MAD, whilst they are fully aware of what they are doing. Some eye witnesses who recognized the accused whilst at my shop confirm he is a thief and criminal.
My questions are; will the police release the boy if it happens to their own child?
If the boy is really not mentally stable, as they claimed, who in his or her right senses will tell a MAD PEESON to help a little girl out?
If the boy was really helping the little girl, will he continue going with the girl, until when he was called?
Why are some police officers dissapointing us in securing the rights of victims?
Why is the government allowing kidnappers and rapists walking freely whilst claiming they are MAD.
My opinion; any MAD PERSON or anyone claimed MAD should be controlled at TANKA TANKA or CAMPAMA. Many a times people commit offences and what we keep hearing is the person is MAD and the next minute the same MAD PERSON will be committing crime upon crime and walking freely.
I am sincerely appealing to the government of the Gambia on behalf of all mothers in the Gambia, to help us protect our girls.
No mother wishes for her child to be raped. No mother will send her child to the market or shop with the intention of going to be raped. Given birth is indeed hard and painful to be careless about your own child. Indeed "he who feels it, knows it" or "he who knows it, feels it". This is a collective responsibility, but mostly, the responsibility of the Government.
Impose a new law that any MAD PERSON walking freely should be controlled at TANKA TANKA or CAMPAMA, and anyone accused or guilty of kidnap or rape should be be given life imprisonment, thus, the rate of rape and kidnap cases will be less or controlled.
I sincerely cry on behalf of all mothers in the Gambia. Please hear our cries and help us protect our girl child.