By Staff Writer Justice Sam And  Karafa Badjie

A Gambian girl whose desire was to  marry a  man of her choice, only to be blocked by her parents has resorted to committing capital offence by pouring hot boiled  oil on her father’s face in protest, the Freedom Newspaper can reveal. Binta Secka, widely known as “Jawo.” who was born and raised in Sambang village, in the Central River Division of  The Gambia, is the daughter of a retired police and former Immigration agent Babou Secka. The incident happened three days ago, in Sambang village, which compelled his dad to be placed under emergency treatment at a local clinic in that region of the Gambia. Binta who is in love with the young man said  to be residing in Serre-Kunda, has been in hiding since the incident occurred, neighbors reported. His dad was said to have sustained serious burns as a result of the fracas, which quickly attracted the attention of neighbors in the area. Health workers at the Dankunku Clinic say Mr.Secka was responding to treatment, but still needs constant monitoring in the next 24 hours. Mr.Secka was opposed to her daughter marrying to a young man who was not part of their family. It’s gathered that his son who was discharged from the police force, as a result of poor health condition, used to marry  the sister of the man in question who is trying to marry his daughter at the same time. Secka could not understand the rationale behind such a move, since his son’s wife was taken away by the said family following his ailing health conditions.

His daughter Jawo however, insisted on marrying the young man. Forced marriages is common in the Gambia, a nation majority of whom are Muslims.

In the case of Binta Secka, family sources say it had nothing to do with forced marriages. Binta in her mid-20’s was said to have violated family norms and values by disregarding her parent’s advise not to marry a man of their choice. Unlike, the Western world, African women  are subjected to parental control even after attaining the age of 18. Parents can decide who their daughters should marry and how they should comport themselves within and outside the house. Girls who fail to heed to such cultural norms and values are often considered as “outcast” in the family. Even if they chose to go ahead and marry the man of their choice, such marriages are never recognized or endorsed by their parents.

Binta Secka has not been arrested or charged by the police yet. It’s gathered that she was being trailed by the police as we filed this report. A group of village elders have been visiting  Babou Secka at his hospital bed. Shock and disbelief continues to grip family members and loved ones.

Many feared that the young girl might resort to committing suicide if not apprehended by the police. The Gambia is a secular state. Under Islamic Sharia law, which is partly applied in the former British colony, men can marry as many as five wives. Due to the emergence of the country’s growing HIV/Aids crisis, health experts and local aids activists have warned communities against the dangers of such a practice. Most of the couples engaged in such polygamous marriages never conduct pre-marital Hiv/Aids test before getting married.

Speaking to the Freedom Newspaper, a relative of Babou Secka said the old man was nearly denied his life in view of her daughter’s wild attitude.” The girl’s attitude against the father is very undesirable so to speak. How can a lady with a sound mind treat his father like this? Pouring hot boiled cooking oil on your father’s body. This is inhumane. Babou Secka is between life and death. Kids in this country need to listen to their parents if they want to make it in the future. This incident will no doubt hunt Binta Jawo for coming years. What goes around comes around. Her own kids might treat her the same, God willing.” said the aggrieved resident of Sambang wollof village who spoke to this paper.

Mr.Babou Secka, who is known as “uncle Babou” during his days in the Force had two grown up kids serving the police and Immigration. His third son was discharged from the police force due to ailing health conditions. As the situation appears, a former law enforcement officer has turned to be a victim of crime.

Some neighbors have also argued that the young lady decision to marry the man of his choice should have been honored  by his dad. They cited instances, where women were made to marry men they do not like only to cause troubles  at such matrimonial homes. In the end,  they said, such marriages end up tearing apart with one of the couples seeking divorce a local Islamic court.

Pressing charges in cases of this nature is always difficult. Most parents would prefer to die than seeing their loved ones being taken to jail. Even though the office of Inspector General of police is mandated to prosecute offenders of the law, under the Gambian constitution, complainants reserve the right not to testify against accused person(s) if they deemed it necessary. In short, they can asked the police to withdraw charges against people who supposedly wronged them. In such a situation, the police have no option, but to discontinue such trials.

Up to the time of going to press, Mr.Babou Secka was hospitalized. His loved ones say they thank God that the hot boiled cooking oil did not touched his eyes during the time of the incident. The man at the centre of this controversy hailed from Kubija Sanjang, but is currently residing in Serre-Kunda. The young girl has placed more value on the man than his own father, said a family member. If convicted, Binta stands to face nothing less than three years in jail.

Local police officers in Dankunku confirmed the incident during the weekend. They said the accused was yet to be arrested.

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Posted on Monday, April 09, 2007 (Archive on Monday, April 30, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI

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