29 November 2012

Gambia: Teenage Rape Victim Testifies Against Foster Father

A teenage rape victim and her aunt, who serves as her adopted mother, yesterday, the 28th appeared at the Special Criminal Court in Banjul, presided over by Justice Emmanuel Nkea, as first and second prosecution witnesses (PW1) and (PW2) respectively, to give evidence. Both the girl, PW1 and the aunt, PW2 (names withheld) accused Bakary Sanno, the husband of PW2, for impregnating the adopted daughter.

Bakary Sanno has been charged with the offence of rape, contrary to Section 122 of the Criminal Code, Laws of The Gambia. The particulars stated that the said accused in the month of June 2012, in Sinchu Sorry Village, within the West Coast Region of the Gambia, had an unlawful carnal knowledge of a 17-year-old girl without her consent. He pleaded not guilty.

Meanwhile, thestate prosecutor, Nyimasatou Jawara had called witnesses in the case including the victim and her aunt. Giving her testimony the victim tearfully informed that she lives in Sinchu Sorry with the said forster mother, who is a wife of the accused person. According to her she has not been to school, and she recalled a certain date when she came out from taking shower, she met the accused Bakary Sanno lying in the sitting room, after he had shut all the doors and windows of the house.

She said the accused asked her to have sex with him, but she refused. The accused then pulled out a knife and threatened to kill her should she refuse to have sex with him. "When I had sex with him, I bled profusely. This had continued whenever my aunt was out. He had asked me not to tell anybody and threathened to do harm if I did," the victim explained.

Furher giving her evidence-in-chief, PW1 said some time later, her aunt observed changes on her and asked what went wrong ; if she was prégnant, but she repeatedly replied no. She however confessedlaterthat she waspregnant, which prompted the aunt to summon a family meeting where she (PW1) mentioned the accused of being responsible of her pregnancy.

She said the matter was reported to the police station, and the accused accepted being the one responsible. "I later experienced stomache pain; I was taken to the hospital and had miscarriage there", she concluded the testimony. However, responding to cross examination from the Legal Aid counsel, the accused insisted that the aunt's husband was responsible for her pregnancy. She argued that all the four windows and doors to the house were locked by the accused, and so when she made an alarm for help nobody came to her aid.

She further disclosed that about six people live in the said compound, but all of them go to work during the day and she stays at home to do domestic work in the house, normally with the accused person. Still responding to questions from the defence counsel, the young victim insited the accused entered the bedroom with a knife and threatened her to have sex with her. She said her aunt, who is her guardian, is the wife of the accused. She denied the allégation made by the defence counsel that she was instructed to level allegation against the accused person.

PW2 the aunt and guardian ofthe victim said PW1 is the daughter of her deceased sister and that the victim, was given to her for adoption at the age of 8 years, after the death of her mother. According to the aunt, by the time the victim was given to her for adoption, she (PW2) was already married to the accused person. She recalled some time in the month of August 2012, the victim did not see her usual menstruation, which prompted her to ask whether anything went wrong with her, but she replied in the negative.

The witness added that some time later, she called one of her sisters to ask the victim what happened and the victim confided in the sister that she was pregnant and that the accused person was responsible. The matter she said was reported to the police after the family meeting.

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