#Article (Archive)

Let's not be Ruled by Fear or Suspicion

Jan 29, 2009, 5:28 AM

It very natural that we as Gambians wish to protect our girls and young women from predators who come to our shore from abroad but we must be both careful and measured in the action we take. There has been much discussion on this topic recently and tempers have been running high on the subject as a result. It was with great fear that we read a letter sent to the Daily Observer from a Gambian living in the United Kingdom on Monday January 26th. In that letter the author intimated that all "toubab" men over a certain age were actually pedophiles. This is a shocking and dangers generalization and all who feel themselves slipping into the trap of believing it should shake themselves back to seeing sense. The author of the above mentioned letter implored the government to "investigate every 'toubab' old man who lives [sic] or arrives in The Gambia and wants to settle there with no good reason." This is shocking in the extreme. What the author is describing is racial profiling. How would the author feel if he was singled out for investigation simply because of the colour of his skin or indeed his religion? What would be his reaction if upon entry to the UK he was automatically judged and singled out because of his appearance or age? This is an extremely dangerous attitude and one which we must be very careful itdoes not gain a foothold here in The Gambia. Certainly there is an issue with the exploitation of our girls and young women, not only by people from abroad but by Gambians also, which needs to be tackled. We call on the police to up the ante in their response to the issue but also call on every Gambian to do their part. If we are serious about protecting our young women then we all have a role to play. We all also have a role to play in making our tourists feel welcome. We must not judge them simply because of how they look or because some other tourists have misbehaved in the past. In our law as all over the free world, everybody is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and as such have the right to go about their business free of unwarranted suspicion based on their appearance.