Misanet.com / Botswana Gazette, 22 March - Thursday, the Botswana Women's Shelter Project launched the book Stories of Courage, 14 tales of terror told by women who were victims of abuse inflicted by those they love - fathers, husbands, uncles and a society not equipped to help them fight back until they found refuge at the women's shelter at an undisclosed location in Gaborone.
The project began in October of 2000 when the group Lentswe la Basadi Ba Batswana (Voice of Batswana Women) interviewed current and former residents of the shelter to find out how they came to need the shelter's refuge and counselling services.
- It was not difficult to find them - they were already there, but the women were reluctant (to tell their stories) which was quite understandable because these were their most personal experiences, said Idah Mokereitane, Project Coordinator at the shelter.
She continued: "Having to share them with the whole world was quite hard. We had to call and counsel them a lot, but eventually they all showed up. Batswana always deny domestic violence is an issue of concern in Botswana, they always want to put it under the carpet, but we wanted to break the silence."
Although she was not on the programme, Imeldah Molokomme, one of the members of Lentswe la Basadi Ba Batswana and gave her account of the way that interviewing the women featured in the book moved her. She said: "During the interviews there were points where you had to stop to allow the tears of women to flow freely and let the emotions of women to subside. There was continuous hugging and trying to encourage the women there is some hope."
Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Tebelelo Seretse talked about the economic impact of domestic violence as well as the social implications. "Domestic violence could cost government up to P100 million per year, which is 4.2% of the national budget. Financial arguments are valid because sometimes they are the only arguments that get the doubting thomases to sit up and take notice," said Minister Seretse.
- We have to stop evading this issue hoping it will go away somehow. There are several stories of courage out there that go untold, she went on.
- I hope this book will have a positive impact," said Mokereitane. "It gives a clear picture of what actually happens." She said it will be encouraging, not only for women who are being abused and need to seek help, but also for those who have never been abused and men who are abusers. "Even to the abuser it will be like a mirror."
As Minister Joy Phumaphi said, "The Women's Shelter has used the messages in this book to assist all women and children as well as abusers to understand the social ill that they perpetuate in this society."