The Miss Senegal affair has just had its epilogue, more than a year after the facts. And the least we can do is that the court decision creates a serious stir among women’s rights organizations. The investigating judge closed without action, Friday, January 20, the complaints for “rape and apology for rape” issued against Amina Badiane, president of the Miss Senegal committee.
The feminist Mariama Kébé, known as “Mamico”, as well as the actor Kader Gadji are on the other hand prosecuted for “defamation and public insults” following exchanges on social networks during which insults were uttered against Mme Star anise. Mme Kébé and Mr. Gadji had become civil parties shortly after Ndèye Fatima Diome, Miss Senegal 2020, claimed at the end of November 2020 that she had been raped during a trip organized by the beauty contest committee. Following this attack, she reported having found herself pregnant.
The case again sparked controversy when Amina Badiane declared a few days later: “Sif you’re raped, it’s because you really wanted it. » A brutal exit which had provoked strong reactions from feminist associations. A petition launched by the Ladies Club platform had collected more than 60,000 signatures asking ” the immediate withdrawal of the operating license and the dissolution of this committee which clearly makes, through the voice of its president, the apology of rape “.
A disappointing verdict
When the verdict was announced, the collective of feminists in Senegal said it was surprised by this outcome, recalling that more than 300 complaints had been filed with the prosecutor following the organizer’s remarks. ” These words were very serious and we expected much more rigor from the Senegalese justice system. If we are not careful, Senegal risks having the label of a country that does not really sanction rape and trivializes the culture of rape “, underlines Wasso Tounkara, member of the collective. But faced with Ndèye Fatima Dione’s refusal to respond to court summonses and lack of additional evidence, the judge was forced to close the case on Friday January 20.
However, the collective intends to request an investigation into the management of the Miss Senegal committee, which it deems ” very problematic “. Indeed, after the testimony of Ndèye Fatima Dione, other participants in the beauty contest had also reported on social networks facts of sexual assault.
For her part, Amina Badiane says to herself “ relieved this sordid affair is over ” and ” the committee be cleared “. She intends to resume her activity put on hold for a year and calls on the State to “institutionalize this Miss Senegal contest “.
Whether ” more and more people report sexual assault, thanks to the actions carried out on the ground As reported by Madjiguene Sarr Bakhoum, communications officer at the Association of Senegalese Jurists (AJS), the obstacles persist. The journey for female victims of sexual assault wishing to file a complaint remains complicated and challenging. ” Filing a complaint in Senegal is very difficult. There is always a smear campaign to discredit the voice of women and make them responsible. The weight of the family also weighs heavily on the decision of women », Details Wasso Tounkara.
” Rape culture is not about to fade “Laments one of the administrators of the Ladies Club platform, citing as an example the complaint filed against Ousmane Sonko, a political opponent accused of rape by the employee of a massage parlor, Adji Sarr. Neither the culture of rape nor its apology appear in the Senegalese penal code, making any legal proceedings on these grounds rare.
A complex app
However, the legislative arsenal has been strengthened with the promulgation on January 10, 2020 of the law criminalizing rape and pedophilia: the perpetrators risk life imprisonment and the limitation period has been extended to ten years. Women’s rights defenders welcome this major step forward but point to significant difficulties. ” The procedure has become very long and the waiting time for litigants weighs on the victims », explains Madjigune Sarr Bakhoum. Cases sometimes take more than a year to be processed due to a lack of investigating judges. ” Few decisions on rape cases have been made so far “, she adds.
Feminist activists also point to the lack of psychological and legal support that victims face. ” When the victim does not have the means, it is very difficult for her to go to trial. The state should set up a fund for victims of rape that would include a court-appointed lawyer to ensure that the law is fully enforced. “, Claims Wasso Tounkara.