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Friday, April 19, 2024

Did he do it, or not?

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With Aisha Jallow

How is it possible for a man to not know if he penetrated a young girl several times? At first he pleaded guilty, and on a second thought, he said he was innocent. I’m speaking about a Quranic teacher, people ! A man who is supposed to be a rolemodel for young people. A man who has studied the Holy Qour’an and who is supposed to interpret the rules of God and make them understandable. Don’t we have the right to expect that a Qur’anic teacher should know better than to lure a young girl into sexual intercourse, especially as this is forbidden? What is wrong in the mind of such a person? It is obvious that when God created him, he didn’t get enough blood so both his brain and his “man parts” could function at the same time.
The scandalous disclosure of a Qur’anic teacher raping a 13-year- old girl ought to cause national outrage among both women and men! Imagine this young girl, vulnerable and trusting an adult, a man who should be above other men, a pious man but a man who showed himself to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. A young teenage girl needs protection, as her body is growing faster than her mind. Her body can be fully developed at the age of 13, but her mind is still the mind of a young child. Others can see her as a temptation, and in her innocent mind she might interpret that as appreciation and not knowing how to handle that. If she is given compliments, she will enjoy these, but in her innocent mind she is not able to see that there is something hidden behind the words.
Grooming is a method used by men (sorry, but it is mostly men) who begin their relation with a girl, or a woman, in a way that seems nice. He gives her compliments, he shows her appreciation in numerous ways. He is calling her, texting her, asking her where she is and whom she is with. All this seems innocent in the beginning, but with time all this comes with more control. He is telling her how to dress and is questioning her decisions. He demands to know her every move, and he is restricting the number of people she is allowed to meet. He is making the girl/woman more and more insecure and depending on him. He is in power and she has no power anymore.
A man, like the Qur’anic teacher in this case, has groomed the girl to trust him. He has made her believe that what he did to her was normal, that it was right because he should not be questioned in his position as a Qur’anic teacher. People respect these teachers, they trust them with their children and expect that the children will learn the words of God, and to distinguish right from wrong. This man, who has put himself on a pedestal has now fallen to the ground. He has showed that he is a pitiful shell of a man. Willfully I don’t mention his name in this essay, because I don’t want to show him that respect. For me, he could be a scabious dog or a toad or a snake in the grass, something dirty and disguisting, ready to harm the one who comes in its way.
This guy, who has now told himself that he is innocent, doesn’t give a rats a** about the innocence of the girl who he has destroyed for the rest of her life. She will never trust men in authority anymore. She is traumatized and considering the lack of psychological support in The Gambia, this girl will be forced to deal with the trauma on her own. It was her mother who brought the girl to the police and reported the case. Imagine how the mother felt when she heard her little girl tell what has happened to her! It must have broken the mother’s heart. She had trusted the Qur’anic teacher with her daughter. Every parent, in their right sense of mind, wants the best for their children. They want their children to learn to do what is right, and who would be the best to teach the children that but a Qur’anic teacher?
When you read this essay, the Holy month of Ramadan has begun, and it is a time for reflection. I wonder what is going on in the mind of the Qur’anic teacher? Is he reflecting on his actions and the consequences they had on the girl he abused? As he seems to be so convinced of his own innocence, perhaps he is pleading with God and trying to convince God that it was all a joke. The teacher confessed his actions at first, but then he changed his mind and pleaded not guilty. Doesn’t he know what he did to the girl? He raped her! It is impossible to call his actions anything else! A rape is a violent action against an innocent part, it is a violation of someone’s dignity and a serious misuse of someone’s power. A man can’t rape a girl and then suddenly tell that he didn’t do it.
This guy told that he became so nervous so he confessed to the crime, but then what? What happened that made him change his mind? Sure, being sentenced for such a heinous crime is tough, but he shouldn’t have skipped the uncomfortable parts of the rules of our God. The Holy Qur’an is not a story book or a school book in ancient history. It is a guideline for us humans in how we are supposed to live and act. Isn’t that some of the things our Qur’anic teachers are supposed to be teaching? I’m sure most of these teachers do that, but what made this guy fall? He can never blame the girl, even if he wants, because he is the adult and should act as an adult and not like a horny dog on the beach.
Every year, in March 8th we celebrate the International Women’s Day around the world. The theme for this year was Inclusion. We celebrated this day in The Gambia too, but for what reason? Where is the will to change anything for the better for Gambian girls and women? The value of a woman seems to be her womb. She is a child bearer first of all, a care giver for her children, for the elderly and for more or less capable men who are supposed to support their families but we all know that it is always the women who work the hardest.
It will never be possible for girls and women to be included in a patriarchal society. Men prefer to work with men, talk to men, discuss with men and speak about women with other men. Women are first of all a tool for the male pleasure and then, if she is good at cooking, she can also be useful somehow. God forbid that women begin to demand their rights! God forbid that young girls are taught how to defend themselves against men with dirty minds. No, keep the girls submissive and tell them they have only one purpose in life, and that is to be mothers. Keep the girls down so they, one day, will become women who never ask for their rights. The girl I have told you about had her rights taken away from her, so what rights does the perpetrator have in this case? Where is the national outrage against him? Claim the rights for all our girls and women to always be safe. That can’t be too much to ask for.

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