She believed she had found the perfect man, the one she had always dreamed of. She loved him passionately and was completely infatuated with him. Her heart raced uncontrollably during their courtship, and she couldn't help but feel a bit crazy when he wasn't around. He consumed her thoughts, grounding her and making her feel alive. She lived in the moment whenever he was near, and she couldn't deny the power he had over her.
But sadly, her fairy tale took an unexpected turn. Instead of living happily ever after, she found herself trapped with a monstrous being. It seemed like the story should have ended there, but fate had a different plan. Wherever she sought solace, she faced unimaginable horrors—men who would violate her, taking away her dignity and innocence.
It's a devastating reality that she never anticipated. The dreams of a blissful future shattered, leaving her with scars that run deep. She thought she had chosen a companion who would protect and cherish her, but instead, she was left to face unimaginable torment.
But I think that God has a purpose for her to share her experiences to save so many Gambian ladies. Sometimes, our bad experiences are orchestrated by God to accomplish his mission.
Indeed, Kenny Rogers could be right when he said: If you want to find love, go looking at home. If you wanna find gold, go looking in the mountains. If you want to find silver, go digging in stones and if you wanna find heaven, go reading the Bible.
With my reading culture; I first heard about this book; ‘Her virginity’ through the Gambian newspapers. I was eager to get a copy to digest the motives behind it as someone interested in the affairs of the Gambia. Finally, a colleague gave me a copy. Scanning through the book, one thing that caught my attention was how as humans, we turn to be blindfolded and marry people we presumed that they were good people by their show of affection, love, and kindness.
In the case of women, they are most moved when men show them love, and affection, showers them with gifts in the course of the courtship, and forget to pay much attention to studying the true character of the man before accepting to marry them.
The fact that a man showers you with so many gifts, and care does not mean such a man is a good material or a good man by all standards to marry him. Besides, men also know the tricks of women and we turn to play along to get what we want.
But every man is like a politician, we campaign well to get the women we want, and after we win the election, no more campaign. It only takes a God-fearing man to still treat a woman right after the election to buy her a rose, call her from work, open the door for her, and know they are both on a journey together.
So sometimes, because we want women badly, we turn to show them all the fake attributes we do not possess. So if you are not smart enough as a woman, you end up with such men in marriage and that is where the true character of the man manifests. This was the case of Fatou Camara, she had taught she married a good man but the man was more than the devil himself.
I also learned that in life, when you pray to God to give you a good man or woman to marry, also pray to enter into a good family.
This is because it is not enough to marry only a good man or woman. In our part of the world, we cement the extended family system, and you cannot do away with them. Hence, the idea of marrying only the man or woman and not the family is untrue. The family of the man and woman can either make or break your married. This was the advice I picked from the book I once read: The Mafia Manager. The author said that; every family has one enemy and we must do everything possible to make peace with them.
Fatuo Camara ended up in a family where the man adores the mother more than the wife. The husband’s family is a lion’s den and she didn’t know until she entered. Sometimes, during the courtship, we turn to overlook so many things in the name of love forgetting that love is not enough in married. We finally became like the boiled frog in a pot of boiling water.
The family you marry into plays a key role in the success of the marriage and we must be sensitive about this. Had the family of the man been sensitive to the plights of Fatou Camara, they would have solved their issue amicably. The unfortunate thing is that they have no interest in the affairs of Fatou Camara and that even worsens the situation and led to the collapse of the married.
Some families too can pretend during the courtship as if they were angels until you enter before you know they are more than the devil itself. So this thing called marriage needs God’s guidance and spiritual revelation.
The true test of a character is when the relationship is in crisis; how you both manage it determines the strength of the relationship. You will know whether to continue with the marriage or not when the relationship hits a strong wind. The true character of both parties will surely manifest during this period of crisis.
I believe, that any relationship before marriage that has not suffered any misunderstanding is a recipe for disaster. Also, any relationship that is too fine and appears both couples are angels is a recipe for disaster. You can't say we don’t fight in the course of our relationship; how is that possible as a human institution?
And then in the case of the Gambia, the challenge is the pressure to marry as a virgin but society forgets that the virginity of a woman can be broken in diverse ways and not necessary through sexual intercourse.
I think this issue has to be reechoed and awareness created in this area. The public needs awareness so that women who broke their virginity without sexual intercourse with a man should not be subjected to the torture that Fatou Camara went through in her marriage. Even those who lost it do not deserve such inhume treatment. Nobody is without fault.
In her case, her virginity was broken when her sister accidentally pushed her to the floor. I also believe that when a lady in the Gambia breaks her virginity, due to the sensitive aspect of the situation, the lady should open up to tell the family.
Also, the lady should open up and tell the man about the situation at hand before marrying the man. The fact that you marry as a virgin is also not a catalyst for a successful marriage. However, it is chaste to marry as a virgin, especially for women. Though, Fatou Camara had a different view and believe that men should also marry as virgins.
Fatou Camara should know that we are men, and we make proposals to buy and not the other way. So once, we have our monies; we decide what to buy. Even the devil wants the saint to destroy. So the standard for women is high and cannot be compared to men- that fact should be established. We are working hard to look for good women to marry; the onus is also on the women to know that they live a chaste life for a man to spend his money on. This is just by the way.
My concern is that, the notion that the hymen is what differentiates between being a virgin and not a virgin is archaic. The question is does “losing your virginity” the same as “losing” your hymen? And how do you lose your virginity anyway? I think Fatou Camara's next assignment as an advocate is to write another book to explain to the Gambian community how women can lose their virginity apart from sexual intercourse. There is a lot of misinformation and many myths about the hymen.
Many people wrongly believe that the vaginal corona is a thick membrane that entirely covers the vaginal opening and ruptures the first time a person has intercourse or any kind of insertive vaginal sex. One myth goes like this: If a bride doesn’t bleed from a ruptured hymen on her wedding night, this means that she has had sex and isn’t a “ virgin .” This is not true. And this ignorance was seen in her book as the family of the man was waiting patiently at her door to examine their bed after their marriage and they felt disappointed when no blood was seen on the white bed sheet. This led to the man calling her so many names. Friends, families, and many others called her names as well; they assumed she was a prostitute.
Most women don’t know what the hymens look or looked like, how varied their appearance and dimensions are, and how little they comply with their cultural myths. Because of our lack of knowledge, we rely on stories that suggest hymen and virginity are some of the most important things about women.
In male-controlled societies, hymens have huge cultural significance and I noticed this from her husband’s attitude. He feels betrayed and lied to by his wife but he should have known better. Sometimes those you assumed are educated are rather the problem because of wrong socialization.
They were told that a hymen that is intact until marriage, and bleeds on the wedding night, is thought to demonstrate the woman’s sexual and moral “purity.” But in reality, many women don’t bleed during first intercourse, either because their hymen has already been stretched or torn through other activities, or because it was very thin or flexible, to begin with.
Learning about our hymens, and our bodies in general, can help us to feel more comfortable and in control in sexual situations. Unlearning the misinformation that we’ve been taught can help us better protect ourselves from STIs, as well as increase our sexual pleasure. Though Fatou Camara’s hymen was broken; she was ready to give her man some wild sexual experience and the husband was very myopic.
Ah! This man paa. Yes, as a noblewoman. Besides, nobody marries the enemy. Well, some men can also marry you just to punish and end your dreams. She wanted to do anything
for him thinking she was loved by the best. Why should she settle for less? Why bother about the rest?
She packed her wardrobes with some wild see-through lingerie. But the husband made her sexual experience also complicated with frequent marital rape. She is just not fortunate. But one thing I noticed was that as an obedient lady, during her honeymoon she was still cooking for the family. She displayed good cooking skills.
But don’t be surprised to see a virgin who knows more about sex than a non-virgin because people read and watch things in this modern age. I end with this: No medical exam on earth can tell if a woman or girl is a virgin. That is the reality. Grab a copy of this important book to read. We are in this together and I stand by Fatou Camara.
The reviewer is a Professor, science and medical journalist, columnist, author, and BL Candidate at the Gambia Law School, Banjul, Gambia. E-mail: [email protected] .