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Toufah: The Woman Who Inspired an African #Metoo Movement

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Toufah is the story of Toufah Jallow, a brilliant and inspiring young woman who, after she was forced to flee to Canada from her home in The Gambia, bravely bucked taboo and named herself as a survivor of a sexual assault by the country's dictator--launching an unprecedented protest movement. In 2015, Toufah Jallow was the nineteen-year-old daughter of the second wife i Toufah is the story of Toufah Jallow, a brilliant and inspiring young woman who, after she was forced to flee to Canada from her home in The Gambia, bravely bucked taboo and named herself as a survivor of a sexual assault by the country's dictator--launching an unprecedented protest movement. In 2015, Toufah Jallow was the nineteen-year-old daughter of the second wife in her Muslim father's polygamous household. Her mother, outwardly conforming, had made sure that her daughter was educated and had ambitions of her own. Dreaming of a scholarship and the support to produce and tour a play about how to eradicate poverty in The Gambia, Toufah entered a presidential competition, sometimes called a beauty pageant in the media, designed to identify the country's smart young women and support their educational and career goals. Toufah won. Yahya Jammeh, the dictator who had ruled The Gambia all of Toufah's life, styled himself as a pious yet progressive protector of women. At first he behaved in a fatherly fashion toward Toufah, but then he proposed marriage. When she turned him down, his cousin lured her to the palace on a pretext, where Jammeh drugged and raped her. Toufah could not tell anyone what had happened. Not only was there no word for rape in her native language, but if she confided in her parents she knew they would take action, exposing them all to Jammeh's wrath, and worse--his critics were routinely imprisoned, tortured and murdered. To silence and control her, Jammeh had her followed. When his cousin sent for her again, she knew she couldn't stay in The Gambia. Wearing a niqab to hide her identity, she fled to Senegal, telling no one so she could keep them safe. Despite mounting pressure from the Gambian government, which claimed she was a "runaway teen," Senegalese authorities put her in contact with international humanitarian organizations and she found refuge in Canada. Eighteen months after Jammeh was deposed, in July 2019, Toufah Jallow became the first woman in The Gambia to make a public accusation of rape against him. Her testimony sparked marches of support and launched a social media outpouring of shared stories among West African women under #IAmToufah, setting Toufah Jallow on the path to reclaiming the future that Yahya Jammeh had tried to steal from her, a future of advocacy and leadership for survivors of sexual violence in The Gambia and beyond.


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Toufah is the story of Toufah Jallow, a brilliant and inspiring young woman who, after she was forced to flee to Canada from her home in The Gambia, bravely bucked taboo and named herself as a survivor of a sexual assault by the country's dictator--launching an unprecedented protest movement. In 2015, Toufah Jallow was the nineteen-year-old daughter of the second wife i Toufah is the story of Toufah Jallow, a brilliant and inspiring young woman who, after she was forced to flee to Canada from her home in The Gambia, bravely bucked taboo and named herself as a survivor of a sexual assault by the country's dictator--launching an unprecedented protest movement. In 2015, Toufah Jallow was the nineteen-year-old daughter of the second wife in her Muslim father's polygamous household. Her mother, outwardly conforming, had made sure that her daughter was educated and had ambitions of her own. Dreaming of a scholarship and the support to produce and tour a play about how to eradicate poverty in The Gambia, Toufah entered a presidential competition, sometimes called a beauty pageant in the media, designed to identify the country's smart young women and support their educational and career goals. Toufah won. Yahya Jammeh, the dictator who had ruled The Gambia all of Toufah's life, styled himself as a pious yet progressive protector of women. At first he behaved in a fatherly fashion toward Toufah, but then he proposed marriage. When she turned him down, his cousin lured her to the palace on a pretext, where Jammeh drugged and raped her. Toufah could not tell anyone what had happened. Not only was there no word for rape in her native language, but if she confided in her parents she knew they would take action, exposing them all to Jammeh's wrath, and worse--his critics were routinely imprisoned, tortured and murdered. To silence and control her, Jammeh had her followed. When his cousin sent for her again, she knew she couldn't stay in The Gambia. Wearing a niqab to hide her identity, she fled to Senegal, telling no one so she could keep them safe. Despite mounting pressure from the Gambian government, which claimed she was a "runaway teen," Senegalese authorities put her in contact with international humanitarian organizations and she found refuge in Canada. Eighteen months after Jammeh was deposed, in July 2019, Toufah Jallow became the first woman in The Gambia to make a public accusation of rape against him. Her testimony sparked marches of support and launched a social media outpouring of shared stories among West African women under #IAmToufah, setting Toufah Jallow on the path to reclaiming the future that Yahya Jammeh had tried to steal from her, a future of advocacy and leadership for survivors of sexual violence in The Gambia and beyond.

30 review for Toufah: The Woman Who Inspired an African #Metoo Movement

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Toufah Jallow won a scholarship contest in her country that was supposed to be her pathway to an education and a better life. The President/Dictator of The Gambia took an interest in her and when she rejected his advances, raped and humiliated her. As a teenager she fled the country, and in just a few years transformed herself into an activist for women's rights in her country and beyond. She gets referred to as inspiring "West Africa's #metoo movement," but I think the truth is more startling be Toufah Jallow won a scholarship contest in her country that was supposed to be her pathway to an education and a better life. The President/Dictator of The Gambia took an interest in her and when she rejected his advances, raped and humiliated her. As a teenager she fled the country, and in just a few years transformed herself into an activist for women's rights in her country and beyond. She gets referred to as inspiring "West Africa's #metoo movement," but I think the truth is more startling because of the lack of conversation and understanding in The Gambia. Toufah explains how there are no words in three languages foe.the act. There were no support services for victims/survivors of sexual assault, and previous victims of the President/Dictator risked their lives and the lives and livelihoods of their families if they spoke up. The conservative community from which she came also had a pretty firm unspoken agreement that such topics are not discussed, and demonstrate in other ways (arranged marriage etc) that women do not have bodily autonomy. In 2008, the UN started redefining rape as an act of war, and you can see that rhetoric here, but she also points out how courts are still demanding higher forms of proof when accusing someone of rape than of other war crimes (a section on the word "alleged" is quite powerful.) I also didn't know of the political turmoil in The Gambia in the last five years, despite having read two novels set there during that time. Toufah's story probably could only have happened during this particular upheaval, although I believe she would have fought for women even if she couldn't have returned home.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shellby Derksen

    This book and the strength and bravery shown throughout it gave me chills. A powerful feminist read by an amazing woman working so hard to change the world. It's not much, but I am so proud of Toufah Jallow. This book and the strength and bravery shown throughout it gave me chills. A powerful feminist read by an amazing woman working so hard to change the world. It's not much, but I am so proud of Toufah Jallow.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carol Douglas

    At age 19, Toufah Jallow participated in a talent (well, also beauty) contest for young women in The Gambia, a country surrounded by Senegal. She wanted to win the prize, which was supposed to be a scholarship to study at any university in the world she chose. She won the contest. But she didn't know that the contest was really a way for President Jammeh, the country's long-time dictator, to hunt for young women. The scholarship never materialized, but she was showered with gifts. The first few t At age 19, Toufah Jallow participated in a talent (well, also beauty) contest for young women in The Gambia, a country surrounded by Senegal. She wanted to win the prize, which was supposed to be a scholarship to study at any university in the world she chose. She won the contest. But she didn't know that the contest was really a way for President Jammeh, the country's long-time dictator, to hunt for young women. The scholarship never materialized, but she was showered with gifts. The first few times she met Jammeh, he acted paternal. Then she realized that he wanted her sexually, so she avoided going to the palace. Then she was pressured to go in and he raped her. He made it clear that he wanted more. With great difficulty, she fled the country and went to Canada. After some time, when Jammeh had been ousted and was being investigated by The Gambia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Toufah decided to speak out publicly and testify against him, though she knew she would face harassment and danger. She spoke out anyway and inspired young women everywhere.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jill Dobbe

    This story is another account of a brave woman who survived a harrowing ordeal through no fault of her own but still suffered the repercussions. Forced to run away from her family, community, and country to save herself, Toufah hides out in Canada. When she finds the strength, encouragement, and help she needs, she returns to the Gambia and tells the truth about her rapist, bringing justice for her and other assaulted women. Rape was a word that didn't even exist in Toufah's language, despite its This story is another account of a brave woman who survived a harrowing ordeal through no fault of her own but still suffered the repercussions. Forced to run away from her family, community, and country to save herself, Toufah hides out in Canada. When she finds the strength, encouragement, and help she needs, she returns to the Gambia and tells the truth about her rapist, bringing justice for her and other assaulted women. Rape was a word that didn't even exist in Toufah's language, despite its occurrence throughout the Gambia. Toufah brought it to the forefront as she fought to finally name her accuser, releasing her from the stigma, fear, and disgrace she felt since her rape occurred. Readers can Google her name, finding the headlines of her case splashed across social media. She is a true hero and warrior who stood up against the abuse of women in the Gambia. Thank you to Netgalley, Toufah Jallow, and the publisher for this ARC.

  5. 5 out of 5

    2TReads

    When I first saw the secondary title of this memoir, I cringed. Was there no other way for the publisher's to highlight how Toufah's experience played into the #MeToo movement? Couldn't they have placed the focus on her country The Gambia? Another entry into white people thinking of Africa monolithically. Toufah's story is harrowing, a young girl violated in the most horrific of ways by the man who should be working to make their country prosper and safer for all, especially girls and women; forc When I first saw the secondary title of this memoir, I cringed. Was there no other way for the publisher's to highlight how Toufah's experience played into the #MeToo movement? Couldn't they have placed the focus on her country The Gambia? Another entry into white people thinking of Africa monolithically. Toufah's story is harrowing, a young girl violated in the most horrific of ways by the man who should be working to make their country prosper and safer for all, especially girls and women; forced to flee all she knows, crossing a border and seeking help from strangers who turn out to be good Samaritans and from UN aid and refugee agencies. It is clear from her recount just how disastrously society keeps failing girls and women, putting them in positions of lengthy investigations of the 'alleged' rape or assault, she juxtaposes this really well by stating how men's word is accepted almost unequivocally. An important addition to the voices speaking up and out against sexual violence and embedded patriarchal misogynistic notions that surround a woman's body autonomy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nicolas Lontel

    Un témoignage poignant et émouvant qui touche à de très nombreuses luttes: contre le viol, la dictature, le harcèlement en ligne et physique, des conditions des réfugié·es (j'ai appris que les réfugié·es se faisaient prêter de l'argent et que donc, en arrivant, illes pouvaient contracter d'une dette de 2500$ à rembourser au gouvernement canadien!!), le féminisme, le capitalisme (comment une figure aussi important que Toufah Jallow s'est littéralement fait remercier d'un centre d'appel comme ça, Un témoignage poignant et émouvant qui touche à de très nombreuses luttes: contre le viol, la dictature, le harcèlement en ligne et physique, des conditions des réfugié·es (j'ai appris que les réfugié·es se faisaient prêter de l'argent et que donc, en arrivant, illes pouvaient contracter d'une dette de 2500$ à rembourser au gouvernement canadien!!), le féminisme, le capitalisme (comment une figure aussi important que Toufah Jallow s'est littéralement fait remercier d'un centre d'appel comme ça, du jour au lendemain ou encore comment on ne l'a pas rémunuré pour des "formations", comment les appartements en ville prenait tout son argent à son arrivée, etc.) on touche même un mini-peu à l'apathie des Canadien·nes concernant leur histoire et leurs rapport avec les Premières Nations. En fait, même ça, c'est plutôt réducteur: on parle de questions de langues, de rapport aux langages et à parler de réalités qui reste vague dans certaines langues ou tabou, des conséquences de "speak up" (mais aussi des énormes bienfaits pour l'autrice), des longues thérapies qui peuvent être nécessaires, de la froideur des processus administratifs ou encore de la charge immense de répéter encore et encore son récit. J'ai du mal à le comparer à La Boîte noire qui est un peu un pendant japonais malgré quelques similitudes: Toufah a été violée par un dictateur, Shiori par un journaliste très proche du premier ministre, les deux sont à l'origine des premières vagues de prise de conscience et sont un peu l'image "#metoo" de leur pays et ont dû s'exiler pendant un moment, pour différente raison, avant de rentrer au pays et dénoncer leurs agresseurs. Le mémoire de Toufah est beaucoup plus personnel et trace beaucoup plus un parcours intime, social, bref, de sa vie et bien que c'est amplement documenté ou discuté, l'aspect sociologique, le travail autour des associations, semble être énoncé beaucoup plus rapidement aux profits de témoignage autour de sa famille (des conséquences pour sa famille et de comment ça s'est déroulé pour eux aussi) et son entourage ainsi que beaucoup d'informations concernant les réseaux sociaux. On passe aussi un peu de temps à parler de la situation politique en Gambie, de la chute (par l'élection et la pression internationale!) d'un tyran. Au niveau féministe, on parle aussi de l'héritage féministe de l'Afrique, des reines et femmes fortes qui sont des modèles pour les filles avec lesquelles Toufah Jallow discute. Du paradoxe de la médiation de cette histoire conservée par l'histoire coloniale, mais aussi des rapports avec l'anglais en général. On discute de la réception des témoignages de viol et de leur discussion dans l'espace publique, notamment l'utilisation du "prétendument" collé aux témoignages d'agressions de femmes, mais jamais pour des meurtres, assassinats, etc. Bref, il y a énormément de sujets abordés, dans presque 300 pages et on passe au travers assez rapidement. Définitivement une lecture capitale dans les témoignages et luttes contre les agressions sexuelles et les exemples de combats à mener au niveau local et à l'international avec les acteurices concerné·es.

  7. 4 out of 5

    (Energy)

    From Toufah’s will to escape her country, there is so much bravery in this book to speak out against her abuser, Yahya Jammeh, the president of The Gambia. What stands out so much to me is the disbelievers. A man launching a manhunt for a 19-year-old young woman isn't normal. Why else would he attempt to hunt her down, if not for her carrying such an enormous secret? Toufah explored what life is like in The Gambia, familial relationships, poverty, struggles, and so much more. She placed you in he From Toufah’s will to escape her country, there is so much bravery in this book to speak out against her abuser, Yahya Jammeh, the president of The Gambia. What stands out so much to me is the disbelievers. A man launching a manhunt for a 19-year-old young woman isn't normal. Why else would he attempt to hunt her down, if not for her carrying such an enormous secret? Toufah explored what life is like in The Gambia, familial relationships, poverty, struggles, and so much more. She placed you in her household through her words and gave the reader a real sense of what life was like. Then, after the pageant, her fear leaped off the page. Toufah is a well-written memoir, of a country in turmoil, of a young woman’s desperate attempt to flee her country. Of her strength and resilience at starting over on a new continent at such a young age. A must-read for everyone. A final note. I was looking into the publisher for this book, as I am grateful they sent this along. It is listed as Steerforth Press, which makes me incredibly pleased, as they are only 20 minutes away from me. I live in a very small country town, and for us, having a publisher of such an incredible book, practically right in your backyard, is something fairly special.

  8. 5 out of 5

    ywanderingreads

    picked this one not knowing what to expect and my heart goes out to Toufah Jallow. She is truly so brave for sharing her story and standing up for herself. She also raised her voice not only for herself but for young girls in Gambia who has gone through a similar ordeal. Toufah and Kim Pittaway shared her story on how Toufah found the will to escape Gambia after being raped by Yahya Jammeh, the president of Gambia in 2015. She was only nineteen. She kept the rape a secret from her family for the picked this one not knowing what to expect and my heart goes out to Toufah Jallow. She is truly so brave for sharing her story and standing up for herself. She also raised her voice not only for herself but for young girls in Gambia who has gone through a similar ordeal. Toufah and Kim Pittaway shared her story on how Toufah found the will to escape Gambia after being raped by Yahya Jammeh, the president of Gambia in 2015. She was only nineteen. She kept the rape a secret from her family for their safety. She fled Gambia without saying goodbye and found refuge in Canada. She felt relieved when she arrived in Canada but her relief was short lived as she struggled to start a new life. Toufah shared what life was like for her prior to the rape and what dreams she had for her future. All her dreams were shattered that night but she learnt to pick herself up. At first, she was ashamed to share her story with her friends and family, but she soon realised that is her first step to healing and being stronger. This is such a powerful and inspirational memoir. It does not only portray Toufah’s strengths but she also showed what a tough journey it was to get there. She showed us her vulnerability and her shortcomings, most importantly she showed us that doing activist work is not as easy and as glamorous as it sounds. You still need to work to pay off your bills. You still have other priorities that could take over your passion. Despite that, Toufah also showed us her determination and resilience to speak up and raise awareness. She talked about how the word ‘rape’ is non-existent in Gambia and how no women has ever stepped up to share their stories until she started her movement. Toufah’s story is raw and captivating. She managed to raise awareness to the #Metoo movement in Africa and showed us what it is like to be a woman there. This is another account of a brave woman who survived a horrifying experience through no fault of her own but still had to suffer the consequences for. Thank you Netgalley and Steerforth Press for the arc.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Toufah by Toufah Jallow and Kim Pittaway is a powerful and inspirational memoir that I really enjoyed reading. What a strong, passionate, and inspirational woman Ms. Jallow must be. Her own personal story that she so bravely brings to light is harrowing, difficult, but yet she overcame. These accounts must continue to be brought to the surface if we are to conquer these atrocities and change society. I thank Ms. Jallow for her bravery in sharing her personal story with us. 4/5 stars Thank you EW Toufah by Toufah Jallow and Kim Pittaway is a powerful and inspirational memoir that I really enjoyed reading. What a strong, passionate, and inspirational woman Ms. Jallow must be. Her own personal story that she so bravely brings to light is harrowing, difficult, but yet she overcame. These accounts must continue to be brought to the surface if we are to conquer these atrocities and change society. I thank Ms. Jallow for her bravery in sharing her personal story with us. 4/5 stars Thank you EW and Publisher for this arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon and B&N accounts upon publication.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Paperwitch

    This book is as captivating as it is shocking. Though it delivers a variety of emotions, it never fails to lose its message. This book brings awareness to the #MeToo movement in the non west and how it is to be a woman in Africa. It somewhat reminds me of one of my favorite books, The Good Girls. Which is about two 13 year old girls who did not survive their story. It definitely wasn’t a perfect book, but it was an important one. And I love to hear about the stories and daily life of women in ot This book is as captivating as it is shocking. Though it delivers a variety of emotions, it never fails to lose its message. This book brings awareness to the #MeToo movement in the non west and how it is to be a woman in Africa. It somewhat reminds me of one of my favorite books, The Good Girls. Which is about two 13 year old girls who did not survive their story. It definitely wasn’t a perfect book, but it was an important one. And I love to hear about the stories and daily life of women in other countries, and their relation to the women’s rights movement.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    This woman, this book, this message! An amazing read from start to end. I don't hear much of the news, so I do not remember seeing this displayed on our news bulletins. Yet here I am reading a book, about a girl who turned into a woman and created the #Metoo Movement. This book shows what strength Toufah has, yet also what strength she is encouraging other women to have. This was a true story of courage, strength and fight. After reading this book, I am looking forward to hearing other stories f This woman, this book, this message! An amazing read from start to end. I don't hear much of the news, so I do not remember seeing this displayed on our news bulletins. Yet here I am reading a book, about a girl who turned into a woman and created the #Metoo Movement. This book shows what strength Toufah has, yet also what strength she is encouraging other women to have. This was a true story of courage, strength and fight. After reading this book, I am looking forward to hearing other stories from women who have found their voice.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Betty

    The more I read, the more I liked the book Toufah. She opens with a chapter on the word “allegedly” which is mostly used only in cases of sexual violence, not other crimes. After being raped by her country’s president, Toufah exiled herself and left The Gambia. Stubborn, she kept the rape a secret. Stubbornness was both her strength and her weakness. Another word discussed is “rape.” That word does not exist in her native language in The Gambia! When Toufah did a computer search for Gambia, rap The more I read, the more I liked the book Toufah. She opens with a chapter on the word “allegedly” which is mostly used only in cases of sexual violence, not other crimes. After being raped by her country’s president, Toufah exiled herself and left The Gambia. Stubborn, she kept the rape a secret. Stubbornness was both her strength and her weakness. Another word discussed is “rape.” That word does not exist in her native language in The Gambia! When Toufah did a computer search for Gambia, rape, survivor, she came across only numbers and data. No women’s stories. A computer search of rape in other countries gave faces, names and showed human beings. Toufah wanted her name used and told. No more secret keeping. I liked the story she told of the hyena and the rabbit. She also tells why she admired Oprah, another survivor of sexual assault. Many thanks to Netgalley and the publishers Steerforth Press/Truth to Power for allowing me to read this book!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dom

    Very moving. I love the way Toufah talks about her experience and her recovery, the trauma of sexual violence does not stay in the moment for us, but often is lasting through our bodies, memories and relationships. Her treatment of PTSD, how she talks about the pushback to her speaking out - the wild and awful things people would say to try and minimize sexual trauma, or normalize it! The way her countrymen in The Gambia would try to separate her feminism from her Aficanness was revealing.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    I just finished Toufah by Toufah Jallow. This is a memoir of an inspiring young woman who fled to Canada as a refugee because she was sexually assaulted by the dictator of her country, Gambia. She is now an advocate for women who have experienced violence against them. She is a very brave woman! It was a riveting story!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    You can read my full review at https://www.storybookem.com/post/book... My official rating is 8 out of 10 Pageant Crowns I picked this book up to find understanding of the world around me, and what found was empowerment, motivation and a reminder as to what it means to be a feminist. You can read my full review at https://www.storybookem.com/post/book... My official rating is 8 out of 10 Pageant Crowns I picked this book up to find understanding of the world around me, and what found was empowerment, motivation and a reminder as to what it means to be a feminist.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bob Lingle

    With a story that reads like a plot line from, The Handmaid's Tale, Toufah Jallow details her experience of rape and assault at the hands of the former president of The Gambia. Toufah's story gives voice to the voiceless, and serves as an inspiration to many. With a story that reads like a plot line from, The Handmaid's Tale, Toufah Jallow details her experience of rape and assault at the hands of the former president of The Gambia. Toufah's story gives voice to the voiceless, and serves as an inspiration to many.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lisa of Hopewell

    I learned of this book from this review: https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2... I learned of this book from this review: https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ameema S.

    4.5-5 stars

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    The publisher provided me with the opportunity to read this (via Edelweiss+). This wasn't always an easy read but I admire Toufah for telling her story. The publisher provided me with the opportunity to read this (via Edelweiss+). This wasn't always an easy read but I admire Toufah for telling her story.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ke

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jess Lawson

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

  24. 5 out of 5

    Max

  25. 4 out of 5

    Devin

  26. 4 out of 5

    xeniba

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kb

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mariya

  29. 4 out of 5

    Katie

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kate Newhart

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