By Siray Touray
Justice and fairness in today’s Gambian society is tilted out of favour for women. As a political activist, I deem it necessary to add my voice to the calls for justice and fairness in the matter of Ya Binta Jarju who was brutally shot and killed by a member of the ‘operation bulldozer’ security task force.
The combine security force, which was formally ‘the task force’, became ‘Bulldozers’ under the command of one Commander Bojang, an experienced police detective. This unit, according to reliable information, is under the direct command of President Yahya. No wonder the unit’s members enjoy carte blanche when they overstep their boundary. This is why the security officer who killed a young woman was not identified, let alone face justice. While nothing is mentioned about the ‘armed officer’ who pulled the trigger that implanted a deadly bullet in Ya Binta’s skull, but the taxi driver was quickly sentenced.
This is unfairness and lack of respect and consideration towards the welfare of women in The Gambia. The government of our dictator should stop making empty rhetoric that “President Jammeh respects the rights of women.”
One assumes Gambian women would be allowed to breathe air of peace and freedom so they can recover from Ya Binta’s illegal killing. That was not the case because another young woman was forced go into hiding. Minah Manneh, who videoed a police officer assaulting a 10-year-old schoolgirl, had her life threatened. It is even speculated that Minah was kidnapped by secret agents.
Women’s rights activist live in constant fear in The Gambia under the current regime. The APRC under Yahya Jammeh only want to use women as its vote bank. It only canvass votes from women with empty slogans. The government then allow Gambian women to become victims of everything: violence, rape or battery.
Gambian women now need to stop clapping and dancing for a man whose government does not respect their rights and well-being. The July 22 celebration camps in Kanilai are nothing but avenues to disrespect and violate the dignity of vulnerable young women. Gambian women are the biggest constituency of voters, and they can make the needed change of governance to end the impunity, bias court rulings, dastardly security use of force.
I stand tall with the family of Ya Binta Jarju and call for the conviction of the arm officer who killed her. I equally condemn the threats against young Minah Manneh.
The motorcades and convoys of President Jammeh driving at top speed have beeen causing nightmares for mothers in the country. Reports highlighted the killing and maiming of many young people as they run to pick the biscuits thrown from the fast moving Jammeh convoys. It is us women who spend sleepless nights with our children in hospital when they are hit by the presidential convoy. It is us women who look after deformed children when the hospitals are unable to fix their injuries.
Therefore, the question is, what has President Jammeh done to enhance the quality of life of Gambian women? The state of fear and the ensuing depression it brought on society in unbearable for the people. President Jammeh should look at the interest of the country, and step down dignifiedly and honourably.