Story Guide
This guide accompanies the digital stories of violence narrated
by young women from Botswana.
WoMen Against Rape would like to acknowledge the following individuals for their contributions to
the Dipolelo! Girls Against GBV project
Peggie Ramaphane for steering and directing the project.
Margaret Morris for her exceptional trauma support skills.
Helen Apps for the initial idea and for managing the project.
Bangwe Chalebgwa for his technical expertise and video editing wizardry.
Published by WoMen Against Rape
PO Box 779, Maun, Botswana
This resource was funded by the Canada Fund for Local Initiative as part of the Dipolelo! Girls
Against GBV project.
Suggested citation: WoMen Against Rape (2019) Dipolelo! Girls Against GBV. Maun, Botswana.
This resource would not have been possible without the generous support and contributions of many
people. WoMen Against Rape would like to thank the following remarkable individuals and organisations
for their support during the project.
WeVideo online video editor allows a relative novice to capture, create, view and share movies. WeVideo
provided Dipolelo! Girls Against GBV with a free educational account, technical support and a joint
marketing opportunity.
Chere Diviney of Ngami.NET made access to the WeVideo online video editing platform possible by
donating increased bandwidth for the duration of the project.
Amy Hill from Silence Speaks shared her considerable experience of working with trauma survivors to
produce their digital stories.
Grateful thanks to the Love Botswana Outreach Mission for allowing us to record the narration at the
Village Church recording studio.
About WoMen Against Rape
Our Mission
What We Do
Terms of Use
Dipolelo! Girls Against GBV Project
Dipolelo! Storytellers
Dipolelo! Process
Purpose and overview of the DVD and Story Guide
Gender-based Violence in Botswana - Key Facts
Key Facts
Gender-based Violence issues & influences emerging from each story
Guidelines for Dipolelo! Story Presenters
Clarify your Aim
Know your Audience
Review & Understand the GBV Issues
Group Size & Composition
Equipment & Venue
Dipolelo! Girls Against GBV Stories
Dipolelo! Story 1. Unseen Wounds
Key Issues
Story Transcript
Discussion Questions for Unseen Wounds
Dipolelo! Story 2. My Scars Remain
Key issues
Story Transcript
Discussion Questions for My Scars Remain
Dipolelo! Story 3. The Mountain
Key Issues
Story Transcript
Discussion Questions for The Mountain
Dipolelo! Story 4. My Father
Key Issues
Story Transcript
Discussion Questions for My Father
Dipolelo! Story 5. Who Do I Trust?
Key Issues
Story Transcript
Discussion Questions for Who Do I Trust
Dipolelo! Story 6. Out of My Life
Key Issues
Story Transcript
Discussion Questions for Out of My LIfe
Dipolelo! Story 7. The Thunderstorm
Key Issues
Story Transcript
Discussion Questions for The Thunderstorm
Preventing Gender-Based Violence
What Youth Can Do
What Parents and Caregivers Can Do
What Men Can Do
What Women Can Do
Warning signs of an abusive relationship
Where can we go for help?
WoMen Against Rape (WAR) is a human rights organization that primarily supports women and children
who experience abuse of all forms. WAR's prevention and mitigation strategies are geared at addressing
the social issues that contribute to abuse of women and children. This is done through offering
psychosocial counselling, provision of a Safe House/Shelter, public education, advocacy and lobbying, as
well as economic skills development.
For over 25 years WoMen Against Rape has been at the forefront of campaigning against sexual violence
in Botswana. We have been influential in changing attitudes and changing laws. From a handful of
women who wanted to “do something” in 1993 we have grown into a fully-fledged NGO (registered as a
Trust in 1995) with our own offices, full-time and part-time staff, and safe house.
Our Mission
The Mission of WoMen Against Rape (WAR) is to promote gender equality, prevent and respond to
gender based violence (GBV) through public education, advocacy, research, and survivor support.
WAR supports women, men, girls and boys experiencing and affected by GBV in Ngamiland and
Botswana by providing temporary shelter, psychosocial counselling, community outreach and education,
staff and volunteer development as well as conducting research. WAR actively engages the community
members with the intentions to build their capacity to identify prevent and respond to gender-based
violence in their homes and communities. This is intended to create a society that speaks out about
gender issues and responds in a more transformative and supportive manner to those many men, women,
boys and girls who suffer gender based violence in Botswana.
What We Do
Our principal focus is meeting the needs of survivors of GBV. We provide a 24 hour crisis helpline,
temporary safe accommodation, psychosocial therapy and support, formal referrals and guidance through
the justice, health and welfare systems.
Alongside these services WAR promotes gender equity through advocacy, and prevents GBV through
education, awareness raising and social mobilisation. WAR conducts and facilitates research and the
results feed into annual reviews of strategy, services and programmes.
WAR focuses on 4 major areas:
1. Support and assistance to GBV survivors.
2. Prevention of sexual violence and abuse through education, training and community
3. Advocate, on behalf of survivors, for changes in the law and other institutions in favour of the
empowerment of women and protection of children.
4. Further the interests of peace, justice, equality and development within society.
You are free to use this material as long as it is not for commercial gain and that when you use it you
acknowledge WoMen Against Rape as the source of the material.
The material was produced by WoMen Against Rape, produced the Dipolelo! Girls Against GBV DVD
and the Story Guide with the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives. The aim is to ensure that the voices of
young women survivors of violence are heard and that lessons are learned from their experiences.
Dipolelo is a Setswana word that means “stories”. Botswana has a long history of storytelling but this is
the first digital storytelling project about gender-based violence. The aim of the project is for survivors to
tell their own story in their own way rather than in the way required by police, social workers, teachers,
nurses and other service providers.
The stories are short, less than 5 minutes and give us a glimpse of the effect of violence on an individual
life. Personal accounts of GBV are rare. We usually hear about GBV crimes through the media where
they are sensationalized to sell newspapers or used as clickbait on social media.
Watching and listening to these young women’s stories brings the effect of GBV front and centre in our
lives. We cannot help but acknowledge the very real effect of violence. With that acknowledgement may
come a shift in public acceptance and tolerance of violence and abuse of young girls in Botswana.
These first-person accounts of GBV will be used as tools for training service providers, schoolchildren,
communities and the public. Each story has a lesson for us and the lessons will better inform us in our
efforts to promote gender equality, prevent gender-based violence and provide services that are more
sensitive to survivors of GBV.
The project was funded by the Canada Fund Local Initiative grant and produced by WoMen Against
Rape in Maun, Botswana.
Dipolelo! Storytellers
It began in October 2018 with a call for young women to contact WAR if they were interested in
participating in the project. After an interview with the project trauma counsellor, seven young women
survivors consented to participate.
Our storytellers have chosen to remain anonymous. They fear the stigma and shame associated with being
a girl or woman survivor of violence. If you recognise one of these stories and can identify the person telling it we ask
you to respect their right to privacy and keep it to yourself.
It is sad that our storytellers feel unable to reveal themselves. They are brave and strong, and excellent
role models for other young women. Surviving violence should be a cause for celebration and
perpetrators should be caught and punished, but it is not like that in Botswana. Survivors are likely to be
blamed for their experience and perpetrators will still be walking among us.
Survivors relate their experience of violence to police, social workers, and nurses and perhaps one or two
family members. Each category of listener is listening for a reason; the police are listening for evidence,
the social worker is assessing social needs and the nurse is determining health needs. Telling family
members is stressful because survivors have to manage their own emotions and consider those of their
Survivors are rarely free to tell their stories for themselves.
Dipolelo! Process
Coming together as project staff and survivors for the first time was daunting. Slowly we began to know
each other; we built a wall of trust and signed an agreement to keep each other’s secrets. Together they
shared their experiences of violence with each other and the project team and over three months they
narrated, recorded and designed their videos to bring their stories to life.
The result is a set of seven short videos, seven radio-ready audio stories and first-person text stories
accompanied by visual material (video and photos) of young womens’ personal experiences of GBV.
The material is designed to allow each story to be used independently of the others. This accommodates
the different needs of educators and organisations.
NOTE: When using the material we urge you to consider the age group of the audience and ensure that they are warned in
advance that the content relates violence and that individuals in the audience who might have experienced violence might find
it distressing. Further, if individuals do excuse themselves we would encourage you to follow up with them, as they may need
counselling for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
The Story Guide includes:
key facts on GBV in Botswana,
seven narrative stories that can be used to demonstrate and unpack gender-based violence,
guidance notes to support service providers and caregivers to make use of the stories, and,
tips on what Batswana youth, men, women, parents, caregivers and service providers can do to
prevent gender-based violence, specifically violence against women and girls.
Gender-based violence is the term used in the Dipolelo! Story Guide as it is considered to better
encompass the experiences of girls and young women than ‘domestic violence’ or ‘violence against
women’. It includes the various forms of violence that girls and young women experience, such as
physical assault, inter-personal violence, dating violence and sexual assault including incest, defilement
and rape.
Gender is the difference in social, economic, legal and cultural resources allocated to males and females
whereas sex refers to the biological differences in people that come about because of chromosomes.
These distinctions are important because the differences between the daily lives and physical
circumstances of women and men play a significant part in shaping their experiences of inequalities in
their respective experiences of health and illness is often a combination of influences from both these
areas that shape variations in health between women and men across a range of settings.
Gender-based violence against women is preventable, but to prevent it we need to understand it.
Key Facts
In Botswana:
2 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence
1 in 10 women who have experienced violence report their case to the police
1 in 3 women have experienced sexual violence
1 in 4 women has experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner.
Violence Issue
Do I
GBV physical - adult
GBV physical - child
GBV sexual - adult
GBV sexual - child
GBV - emotional
Do I
Culture - patriarchy,
male dominance, social
roles, social norms
Family resistance to
report cases to the
authorities Go bipa
mpa ka mabele
Alcohol use and
Cycle of Violence
In our work preventing gender-based violence we have found that in almost every audience there will be is at least one, or
more, survivors of violence. It is important to make your audience aware that there may be triggers in the videos and that they
are free to leave if they need to. It is helpful to have a counsellor available to assist anyone who finds the material distressing.
It is good practice to have a contact list for social workers and/or counsellors in your area available so that you can refer
those that might be triggered by the stories.
Working with these stories is challenging and you should prepare yourself for a range of emotional responses. The guidelines
are set out to assist you to give your audience the opportunity to be heard, to learn and to identify actions that they can take
to prevent gender-based violence.
Clarify your Aim
Each story refers to a specific kind of violence including defilement, sexual assault, physical assault, child
abuse and social media abuse. When you plan to use the stories and the guide it will help you considerably
if you are clear what you want to achieve.
Know your Audience
Knowing who you are presenting to will be vital to the successful presentation of the stories. Reactions
differ considerably. For example, professionals may be dispassionate and focus only the service issues. Or
they might probe the background and outcome of the stories rather than engage with the feelings and
experiences that the storytellers present.
Review & Understand the GBV Issues
Gender-based violence can provoke heated discussions with people completely divided in their
consideration of the issues. You need to be able to handle emotional outbursts or take someone with you
who can help with strong emotional responses.
In order for people to get the best out of the stories you will need to be familiar with GBV issues in
Botswana, not just from the GBV Key Facts section in this guide. You are welcome to contact WoMen
Against Rape for additional information.
Group Size & Composition
We suggest no more than 25 people in a group to make the discussion more productive. Give advance
notice of the event and remind people about the potential distressing nature of the content.
The more mixed the group is in age, gender, education etc. the more lively and potentially polarised the
discussion can become. Think ahead about what you want to achieve and select your group accordingly.
Equipment & Venue
Screening the stories from a DVD requires a stand-alone DVD player or from a computer connected to
speakers and an LCD projector. We strongly advise you to test your audio-visual equipment beforehand
to ensure that it’s working in the venue you plan to use. Make sure you have a power source in the venue,
an extension cable, appropriate plugs and adapters. The room should be able to be darkened with either a
screen or a white wall to show the videos.
You will need a flip chart and pens to capture feedback from the group.
Depending on how you plan to run your presentation, we suggest you copy and distribute a feedback
form for personal comments. There may be some people who have specific questions that they don’t
want to ask in public so give them a chance to write them down for you on the feedback form. You
might like to give out an email address for people to follow up with you.
For each story, we provide the following:
A summary of the story
Key issues in the story
The story transcript
A set of questions to ask that will get the discussion going and aim to get people to think more
deeply about what they have seen, heard or read.
Suggested responses to the specific questions.
The author has a cousin with a young baby who is in an abusive relationship. One evening she visited her
cousin and while she was there, her cousin’s boyfriend became abusive and violent. She would like her
cousin and her cousin’s boyfriend to get help.
Key Issues
Gender-based violence (physical), adult and child
Bystander involvement
Story Transcript
I visited my cousin Lerato at her place that evening.
By then Lerato was a nursing mother with a 2 month old baby girl. When I got there she asked me to help her by
babysitting, while she was cooking in the kitchen.
Her boyfriend came home as we were sitting down to eat.
We ate supper together and then Patty told us he was going out drinking. Lerato did not want him to go, she was worried
that he would take a girl and cheat on her.
They started shouting at each other and quarrelling.
Suddenly he locked the door to the place and started shouting and beating us.
He slapped us and punched us with his fists.
He banged our heads together, and bounced our heads off the wall. He slapped the baby on her face. We were screaming and
shouting for help.
Finally, we managed to get the key off him to open the door and get out.
The neighbours came to help and they helped us to calm the baby.
I told Lerato that her boyfriend had been flirting with me, sending me text messages telling me that he loves me and that it
should be a secret between us. I was not interested in him and I told him so but he still kept on trying.
Lerato was angry, and said she didn’t trust me anymore. Because I only told her about this now when there is a problem.
This hurt me physically and emotionally because I felt violated out of my innocence and the fact that my cousin also lost trust
in me.
The following morning I went to WoMen Against Rape to report the matter and seek guidance and counselling.
I wanted Lerato and Patty to come to WoMen Against Rape. I wanted Lerato’s boyfriend to learn that beating was not the
way to handle conflict. I wanted him to learn that his drinking was a problem and that alcohol should not control him.
Discussion Questions for Unseen Wounds
1. How did you feel about Lerato, Patty and the author? Describe the parts of the story that especially
moved you.
This question encourages people to examine their feelings about the participants in the story. Feelings are a good way to
understand personal beliefs and attitudes.
2. Do you think that the storyteller was right to get involved in her cousins relationship?
People will often ignore abuse happening to others because they feel it’s not their business. A person in an abusive
relationship may not realise it and the kind words of a friend or family member may help them to see things differently.
3. What role do you think alcohol plays in violence against women?
Alcohol is not the cause of violence but it can aggravate it. Not all people who drink alcohol are violent and not all violent
people drink alcohol.
4. What would you do if you had a friend or family member who was in an abusive relationship?
Encourage participants to consider their own circumstances, given the widespread nature of violence against women and girls
in Botswana it is common to find people who have friends or family members who are in abusive relationships.
Moving from being a passive bystander to an active empowered one and contribute to change the social acceptability of
harassment, abuse or violence.
The 3 D's of Bystander Intervention.
1. Distract: Anything that distracts someone enough to discontinue the abusive behavior.
2. Delegate: If you do not feel comfortable or safe intervening, delegate the intervention to someone else.
3. Direct: Directly address the abuse.
The storyteller is a young girl whose father physically abuses her, her siblings and her mother. He barely
conceals his anger. After one particularly horrific whipping from her father, our storyteller goes to see her
guidance and counselling teacher at school and tells her what is happening in her home. She and her
mother and siblings are taken to the WoMen Against Rape Shelter for protection. The family goes for
counselling and her father’s behaviour improves.
Key issues
Gender-based violence physical (child & adult)
Gender-based violence emotional
Child-parent communication
Story Transcript
I remember those years back when my father used to pin me to the ground and make me die in the dust. He made me think
that my life was worth nothing that my life was worth zero.
I was born abused,
Even the one who held me for 9 months in her tummy ended up being a victim of it.
I had no joy in my life.
My father treated me like a dog.
I remember in 2007 when I was still in grade 1. For no reason he hit me again and again on my back and my face.
I cried and cried and cried and cried until no more tears came out. That is when I realized my father is a lion not a human.
He deprived me of food and clothes. I did not feel like I belonged in my family.
My father hated me, he hated all of us. He did not have a human heart.
Every time my sister or I asked for something, his face revealed a glimpse of boiling madness hiding behind his mask.
Each time he physically or emotionally abused us, we would need not to search why he was doing that, it was plain on his
face that he hated us.
Last year March there came a day when I found the courage to do something about my terrible life. I decided that enough is
I went to see the guidance and counselling teacher from our school. She helped us, she took us to the police and opened a case
against my father.
We were taken to the hospital for further investigation, because the night before he had whipped me in a horrifying way.
WoMen Against Rape helped us a lot. My mother, sister, and I were taken to the WAR Shelter where we were safe, away
from my father and his violence.
Our whole family went for counselling at WAR. My father learned not to beat us and we learned not to accept any violence
and how to protect ourselves
Since then my father has changed and things are better in our home. But he took away my trust, respect, and honour for him
and my scars remain.
Discussion Questions for My Scars Remain
1. How did you feel about the author? Describe the parts of the story that especially moved you.
This question encourages people to examine their feelings about the participants in the story. Feelings are a good way to
understand personal beliefs and attitudes.
2. This young girl felt like she did not belong in her family. What did her father do to her besides
physically abusing her that made her feel like that?
He denied her food and clothes. The Botswana Childrens Act 2009 is clear on parental responsibilities. You could read out
the relevant section1.
3. Do parents have the right to beat or whip their children?
It is important that participants understand that beating and whipping a child causes physical and emotional harm.
According to the Botswana Children's Act, parents have a duty to respect the child's dignity and refrain from administering
discipline which violates such dignity or adversely affects the physical, emotional or psychological well-being of the child or any
other child living in the household.
4. She says at the end of her story that despite the change in her father’s behaviour her scars remain.
What do you think she means?
Child abuse has long lasting mental, emotional and physical effects. Adults who have experienced abuse in childhood do not
earn as much as those who did not experience abuse and they have more episodes of illness, die earlier and achieve less.
However, this effect is erased if the child is removed to a place of safety and their social, psychological, physical mental and
emotional needs are met.
1 Botswana Children's Act, 2009 (No. 8 of 2009). PART IV Parental Duties and Rights (ss 27-29)
This young mother lives with her boyfriend and their baby girl. She didn’t attend Secondary School and is
unemployed. Her boyfriend is working. They have been in a relationship for some time. Her boyfriend
goes out for milk for the baby and does not return until late in the night and he’s drunk. He did not bring
the baby’s milk. She looks at his phone and finds photos of him kissing a girl. She confronts him and he
flies into a rage and beats her, and their baby. She manages to get out of the house and runs for help.
They both go for counselling at WAR and life at home improves but he is still cheating and she would
like to leave but has nowhere to go and no money for a place of her own.
Key Issues
GBV physical (adult & child)
Infidelity (cheating)
Story Transcript
I just felt the tears on my cheeks and heard my baby crying far away.
I was on the floor with my tongue hanging out.
Sorrow, pain and disappointment was all that covered my whole body.
I felt powerless.
I couldn’t blink or move my fingers.
I was shocked.
His punch on my eye made me feel like I was falling down a mountain. At the bottom of the mountain and he punched us
over and over again.
I found myself holding my daughter by her leg.
The blood on my daughter’s mouth stopped me breathing for some minutes.
Why did he beat our beautiful child? Is he normal?
The moment he gave us his back, we managed to escape.
I didn’t give the devil a chance to rule my life. I went straight to the clinic where we saw a nurse who gave us medication and
referred us to WoMen Against Rape.
We went to WoMen Against Rape and had an appointment with the counsellor.
I told the counsellor my story.
My boyfriend went out to get milk for our child. When he came back in the morning, he was drunk. I asked him “Where is
the milk?” He said he forgot to buy it. Then he went to bed.
I found his phone with photos of another girl. They were kissing. I asked him about the photos and I told him “Those photos
are the reason why you didn’t buy the milk for the baby.” That’s when he started beating us.
The counsellor called him to come. Together we were counselled and taught about gender-based violence.
That was the turning point of our relationship.
Now my boyfriend doesn’t drink and he spends time with the baby and takes care of her.
Things are better.
But he’s still cheating.
It hurts me.
I think it’s time for me to move on but where do I go because I still love him and he’s providing for me and our daughter and
we are living in his home.
Discussion Questions for The Mountain
1. How did you feel about the author and her boyfriend? Describe the parts of the story that especially
moved you.
This question encourages people to examine their feelings about the participants in the story. Feelings are a good way to
understand personal beliefs and attitudes.
2. Her boyfriend punched her and their baby. Why do you think he did that? Was he justified?
The defence for hitting a woman is often related to her behaviour, “she drove me to it”, “she was shouting at me and she was
disrespectful so what should I do?”
Violence is never okay, it cannot ever be justified.
You can steer the discussion into how to handle conflict in a relationship.
Anger is an emotion, which we all feel at some time; punching, hitting and beating are behaviours that stem from anger.
When anger explodes into violence people get hurt, even innocent children. Learning to handle anger is a skill and it can
be taught.
3. Infidelity or ‘cheating’ is when one partner has another relationship without the other knowing. What
do you think or feel about this?
Suspicion of infidelity has been described as a major cause of GBV in Botswana even to the extent of murder/suicide.
Infidelity is an issue of commitment in a relationship. How can couples prevent infidelity? People should be talking about
what is going on in the relationship before they break up.
A story of father-daughter incest. Her father asks her to keep a secret and his secret is to rape her. She
keeps this secret until one day she gets the courage to tell her mother. Her mother helps her to go to the
police and report her father. She is taken to the WoMen Against Rape Shelter where she completes a
cooking course and gets a job.
Key Issues
Defilement, father/daughter incest
Secrets and silence prevent survivors from reporting
Family resistance to reporting a case of defilement to the authorities placing family honour
before the needs of the child
Removing the child to a place of safety (WAR Shelter)
Story Transcript
I didn’t want this to happen to me.
Before he raped me my life was so good.
Then one day, he called me and said “My daughter I want to make a secret between us.”
One night he called me to his room.
He was lying on the bed with a towel over him. He said “Remember, I was telling you about a secret?” I said “yes, I
remember, but what is this secret about?”
He didn’t say anything. He just grabbed me and threw me on the bed.
He put a pillow over my face, pulled my skirt and ripped off my panties. I tried to sit up, I tried to keep my legs closed but
he forced them apart with his knees and then he raped me.
After I wanted to kill myself.
My father’s secret was to rape me.
He raped me many times.
I kept his secret because I was afraid people would call me a liar.
I kept his secret because he was beating me if I did anything wrong,
I kept his secret until one day I told my mother.
My mother talked to my Uncle, my Aunt and my Grandfather.
My grandfather didn’t want me to report my father to the police.
He wanted us to sit as a family and in our home and talk and tell my father that what he did to me was a bad thing.
And he should stop.
He said “This is your father. Why can’t you forgive him?” “Just talk, and then you start a new life.”
I wanted to report my father to the police because what my father is doing to me is a crime.
With my mothers help I went to the police and I reported my father.
They took my statement and took me to the hospital to check to see if I am pregnant or HIV positive.
My social worker got a court order and took me to stay at the WoMen Against Rape Shelter to keep me safe and for
Since I was at the Shelter I’ve learned many things.
I took a course and learned how to cook and now I have a job at a restaurant.
I don’t cry anymore, I’m not scared anymore, now I feel free and happy.
I still love my father, because he is still my father.
Discussion Questions for My Father
1. How did you feel about the author and her father? Describe the parts of the story that especially
moved you.
This question encourages people to examine their feelings about the participants in the story. Feelings are a good way to
understand personal beliefs and attitudes.
2. What is ‘defilement’?
Defilement is not the same as rape. The key difference between defilement and rape is age. Sex with a minor (under 18 years
of age) is called defilement. It is a crime under the Botswana Penal Code, Subsection 147.
There are two exceptions 1. If the sex takes place between persons who are both under 18. And 2. If the sex is between a
person who is not more than two years older than the other. For example, a 17 year old and a 19 year old.
3. Why do you think her father got her to “…make a secret with him.”?
Perpetrators of defilement typically use secrecy and silence as the first line of defence then if secrecy fails; they will attack the
credibility of the victim. If he cannot silence his victim, he will make sure no one believes her.
This a good discussion to have because children love secrets, they love to feel special and perpetrators use that to their
4. In her story, she tells us that after her father raped her she wanted to kill herself.
More than 30% (1 in 3) of rape victims contemplate suicide. Many more suffer from severe depression.
Survivors of defilement should be encouraged to seek help from the authorities like the police, the clinic, a social worker,
guidance and counselling teacher at school or an NGO like WoMen Against Rape, BOFWA,
5. Her Grandfather wanted her to have a family meeting instead of going to the police he asked her why
she couldn’t forgive him and move on with her life. Do you think cases of defilement should be
settled in the family? Or do you think our storyteller was right to go to the police and report her
There is a strong tradition in Botswana of keeping unpleasantness within the family like the expression “Go bipa mpa ka
This tradition prevents survivors from speaking out. It allows perpetrators to continue their behaviour without sanction, just
a family discussion and an agreement that this won’t happen again, but of course it does.
Reporting to the police ensures that the child gets access to services, which can support her. She can be removed from the risk
of further abuse to a place of safety and the perpetrator will face the full weight of the law.
Going out with a friend to a bar for some fun this young woman found herself being gang raped by four
young men and then just when she thought she was safe she was raped again by her neighbour, a man she
knew who said he would help her.
Key Issues
Gang rape (strangers)
Rape (known)
HIV infection
Pre and post exposure prophylaxis (to prevent HIV infection)
Emergency contraceptive (to prevent pregnancy)
Police case
Story Transcript
One night I went to the bar with my girlfriend to have fun.
When I was going to the toilet behind the bar, four men came and grabbed me, and dragged me into the bush.
I screamed but no one came. There was no one to help me.
They were angry, forcing me to shut my mouth and grabbing my neck, pulling my t-shirt on my face, and pulling off my
They almost took an hour raping me, I was crying, I cried a lot, my heart broken in pieces.
After they finished raping me, they ran away and I ran to the bar looking for help. A neighbour came; he asked me why I
was crying. I told him I was raped.
He said that he would take me to the police in his Uncles car.
We went to his Uncles place to get the keys.
It was dark inside so he said to come inside and light the candle so he can find the keys.
I felt him behind me, he pushed me into the bed and held a knife to my stomach.
I screamed for help. He told me to shut my mouth, took off my trousers and raped me.
Next thing the door opened and his Uncle shouted “What are you doing? What’s going on in my house?” I pulled on my
trousers and ran out of the house.
My neighbour ran after me begging for forgiveness.
I told him I was going tell my parents and I went home.
When I arrived home I was crying and I told my sister everything.
She said I should sleep and go to the police in the morning.
In the morning I started to wash my head as it has soil and grass on it.
My sister stopped me. She told me that they were taught at school that if one is raped they should not bath before going to
the police.
My sister came with me to the police station and I was crying all the way.
Two policewomen took my statement, I was crying and I struggled to speak.
Then the police took me to my neighbour’s place. He was not there but his mother told the police that I was lying. They told
the mother to tell the man to report at the police station, as they need him for investigations.
Then they took me to hospital. The nurses took samples from under my nails and from the hair on my head and pubic area.
They also took blood samples and vaginal swabs and tested for HIV and for pregnancy. Then the police women took me to
WAR for counselling which helped me a lot.
I tested negative for pregnancy and for HIV. I was given post exposure tablets and advised to return for follow up tests after
3 months.
The post exposure tablets made me dizzy and I was vomiting so I stopped taking them and threw them away.
The police told me that the suspect (my neighbour) tested positive for HIV.
I was very scared of contracting HIV
I feared what my neighbours and friends would say for having been raped and for being HIV positive.
I was also scared that the man who raped me would assault me again.
Three months after the rape I went for the follow up HIV test and I was HIV positive.
I was scared and angry at the men who raped me and was afraid to tell my family and my boyfriend.
The case is still with the police and has not been to court.
My neighbour who raped me is still my neighbour.
Discussion Questions for Who Do I Trust
1. How did you feel about the author? Describe the parts of the story that especially moved you.
This question encourages people to examine their feelings about the participants in the story. Feelings are a good way to
understand personal beliefs and attitudes.
2. What is rape?
Rape is a crime that is committed through a sexual act without the consent or agreement between the people involved (see
Botswana Penal Code Sections 141-142). Rape is traumatic, humiliating and can have life changing consequences. Rape is
never the victim’s fault. Rapists make the choice to rape and they are to blame.
You can be raped by a stranger or by someone you know or are going out with (date rape). If you are raped by two or more
people at the same time, it is called gang rape.
3. Do you think that women that go to bars for fun are asking to be raped?
It is never the victims fault she was raped. Only the rapist is at fault. Women and men are entitled to have fun at night.
Instead of holding the rapist responsible, we think she was ‘asking to be raped’ or we wonder if she is telling the truth. If
rape survivors believe these myths themselves, they may feel too ashamed or guilty to report the rape, even though they have
done nothing wrong. This prevents many rapists from being prosecuted.
4. Do you think that men rape because they just want sex?
Rape is not only about relieving sexual desire. It is about gaining power and control over another person. A rapist gets
satisfaction by humiliating and controlling his victim and uses sex as the tool to do this.
5. Our author tells us that her sister told her not to wash before going to the police to report being
raped. Why?
Survivors of rape are encouraged to report to the police within 72 hours (3 days) of the crime but they may also report at any
time. Rape is a crime that can be investigated and prosecuted by the police many years after it happened. Encourage all
survivors of rape and sexual assault to report to the police.
In order to preserve evidence of the rape, survivors should avoid the following activities that could potentially damage evidence
such as:
Using the restroom
Changing clothes
Combing hair
The services that a rape survivor can expect are:
DNA will be collected to identify the rapist (this is why it is good to preserve the evidence)
HIV Testing and Counselling
Emergency Contraceptives (to prevent pregnancy)
Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (to prevent HIV infection)
Sexual Transmitted Infection Screening and treatment
Psycho-social support and counselling
6. At the end of her story the author tells us that “my neighbour is still my neighbour.” What do you
think she means?
It means that her neighbour is still living next to her. He is not in prison, she sees him every day.
She loved him and he loved her back. He treated her like a princess. Then he lost his job and she allowed
him to move into her home. Things changed. He would check on her behaviour; he would check whether
anyone had been around the house by looking for footsteps in the sand. He kept her away from friends,
family, and even her neighbours. He would argue and he would beat her, and then he would take care of
her until the bruises faded and then he would argue and beat her again.
Key Issues
Intergenerational relationship
Coercive control
Physical abuse
Story Transcript
He was 10 years older than me and I loved him.
One day he got into financial problems that left him homeless.
I felt sorry for him, so I moved him to my place.
When he came home after work he would ask questions “Who came to visit?”
He would check around the house for footprints in the sand.
There was no trust, always arguments.
I would plan all day how to answer his questions. What could I to make him smile? I was always thinking of him.
I kept the house clean. I washed his clothes. I made food for him. I dressed nicely. I plaited my hair.
Nothing worked.
He was suspicious of my brother and my friends. He kept me to himself.
There was no communication with neighbours, I even lost friends and I dropped out of school.
Arguments became beatings.
He would beat me in the bedroom with doors locked and the music loud so no one could hear me scream.
After the beating, he would hold me and care for me and ask for forgiveness.
But he would lock me in the house until the bruises faded.
I felt so stupid.
I went to the police for help.
Then a policewoman suggested that I go to visit WoMen Against Rape.
I went to see a counsellor. I told her my story, she asked me “What do I want to do with him?” I told her “I want him out
of my place, out of my life and out of my brain!”
I got a restraining order at the Magistrates Court.
He complied with the order and he left my place..
I was free.
But my place was full of memories so I moved to my brothers place
I was free but my place was full of memories so I moved to my brother’s house to recover.
I went back for counselling to learn how to start again.
Discussion Questions for Out of My Life
1. How did you feel about the author and her boyfriend? Which part of her story touched you most?
This question encourages people to examine their feelings about the participants in the story. Feelings are a good way to
understand personal beliefs and attitudes.
2. Do you think the age difference between the author and her boyfriend was a problem?
Young women in sexual relationships with older men are more likely to become HIV+. Between ages 15-24 young women
are three times more likely to be HIV+ than their age mates because of age disparate sexual relations2
Older men are likely to be earning enough to entice young women with promises of goods that they desperately want but
cannot afford. These relationships are described as transactional sex where the young girls are willing to get into the
relationship because of the rewards but do not recognise the risks. Girls often find it very difficult to get out of these
relationships, as they are vulnerable.
3. Why do you think her boyfriend checked around the house for footprints in the sand when he came
home from work?
He wanted to see if anyone had come to visit with her during the day. He also kept the neighbours away and kept her from
seeing her family and friends.
This behaviour is about control. Her boyfriend made the author a prisoner in her own home, she was in an unreal world
created by her boyfriend, trapped in a world of confusion, contradiction and fear.
This controlling behaviour is not love. Some girls and women mistake this possessiveness for love and they should be
encouraged to see that actually it is unhealthy and controlling.
4. Do you spend all your time trying to please your partner?
Pleasing your partner should be something you enjoy doing but not because you are afraid that if you don’t he won’t love you
anymore. Mutual respect is the foundation of a good relationship. You should know that he or she respects you and loves you
for who you are, not for your clothes, make-up, car etc.
2 Ola A. 2016. Trends in HIV and AIDS Prevalence in Botswana: Results from Botswana AIDS Impact Survey 2013 (BAIS IV ).
Pula. Journal of African Studies. 30(2), 192-213.
A wonderful man from church approached her and asked her to be his girlfriend. She was delighted and
they had a wonderful time together. And then things changed. She moved to another place and he began
to say hateful things in text messages. He bombarded her with these messages making her feel worthless.
Key Issues
Verbal Insults (abuse)
Texted Insults (abuse)
Cyber Bullying
Emotional Abuse
Story Transcript
It was the year of 2017, around April, when I met a guy.
He was older than me, a true and perfect friend.
A churchgoer, a Christian and a non-alcoholic person.
He asked me to be in a relationship with him and I agreed.
I was happy with him and I liked him.
All was good in our relationship because he was a loving person.
But little did I know that he was a dishonest, unfaithful and secretive person.
After eight months, I moved to Gaborone and then came that one moment when he sent me a message accusing me of
He said “Nowadays you are being disrespectful to me so it means that you are with someone.”
I was angry and unhappy.
I had wondered all this time that when I felt suspicious that he was being unfaithful.
It was all true.
In phone calls and text messages, he called me fat; he told me I had ugly, small ears that were different sizes. He said “You
look like 20 litres of sour milk.”, “You smell bad, and you make my blankets to smell bad.”
He accused me of being disrespectful. He accused me of cheating again and again but it wasn’t true.
I went through the weeks of name-calling, belittling, shaming and insults.
He called me a crazy person.
I could not sleep, I could not cook, I couldn’t do household chores. I had no energy for anything.
Ending the relationship was the solution.
I stopped replying to him. I decided to delete all his messages so that I wasn’t tempted to read them over and over and push
myself further into depression, or craziness.
This was my first time to experience this kind of bad naming, and untrue accusations from someone I was in relationship
Slowly, I regained my confidence with my body shape and my ears, which he said, were small and ugly. I did all sorts of
exercises to improve my body size and control the stress I was going through.
One thing I know for sure is that God knows why he created me exactly as I am. And I am perfect.
Over time my life got back to normal and I could see the light again.
Discussion Questions for The Thunderstorm
1. How did you feel about the author and her boyfriend? Which part of her story touched you most?
This question encourages people to examine their feelings about the participants in the story. Feelings are a good way to
understand personal beliefs and attitudes.
2. Do you feel that name-calling and insults are abuse?
Name-calling is considered abusive behaviour because it labels ones partner as something negative -- you’re dumb, ugly,
stupid, fat, unlovable-- without acknowledging or considering their feelings. By texting insults like “you’re fat”, “you’re
ugly”, and “you look like a 20 litres of sour milk” her boyfriend is humiliating her, he is deliberately eroding her sense of
self-worth. He wants to hurt her, to make her feel worthless.
Healthy relationships don’t use name-calling to resolve conflict or express love. Both partners make the other one feel good
about themselves.
3. How would you deal with this kind of abuse?
Encourage participants to come up with ways to deal with this abusive behaviour so that they could go on with their lives,
freely without fear of further insults.
Everyone can do something to help prevent violence against women and their children.
What Youth Can Do
Start by thinking about your own attitude about sex and gender. Do you treat males and females
differently? If you do, why?
Do you think expressions like “Mosadi tshwene o jewa mabogo” are sexist? Do you think its okay to
talk about women like that? Expressions that are insulting to women undermine their status in
society. Don’t let people get away with it, voice your displeasure at sexist jokes and terms and explain
If one of your friends was behaving badly to a girl, maybe controlling her, insisting on looking at her
phone, checking her messages. Would you say something? Controlling behaviour is not a sign of love;
it’s a sign of violence.
When you read about rape or physical assault in the newspaper or online do you think “I wonder
what she was wearing?” “I wonder if she had been drinking.” Whatever she was wearing or doing has
nothing to do with rape. The only person responsible for rape is the person who did it, the
What would you do if you saw a woman struggling with a man who was trying to kiss her? Would
you step up and step in to make a difference?
What Parents and Caregivers Can Do
As parents or carers you are a key source of information for your children and what you do and say really
influences how children behave. If you shout, scream, and hit out when you are angry they will too.
It’s your responsibility to promote positive messages and behave with respect towards everyone else
around you. You are the adult, it’s your job to behave like one.
There are signs that someone is in an abusive relationship. Educate yourself about the warning
signs of violence in young people’s relationships.
Show your children both male and female role models who are succeeding in non-traditional
Model equality at home and in your own relationship - make sure your child sees you talking
through problems in an open and respectful way and sharing jobs at home equally.
What Men Can Do
To prevent violence against women and children, we all have to challenge the beliefs and
behaviours that excuse, justify or condone violence and inequality. Can you think of any customs
in your community that make it okay to hit a child or beat a woman?
Not all men are violent towards women and girls but many men are often silent in the face of
violence, sexual assault or behaviours that excuse violence and control in relationships.
The easiest thing to do is nothing! You have to take a stand to challenge violence and it can make
you unpopular. Step up and step in to make a difference, it’s really important to change things for
women and girls.
3 Adapted from Our Watch Australia https://www.ourwatch.org.au/Preventing-Violence
What Women Can Do
If you see or hear something sexist, speak up. You’re probably not the only one who thinks it’s
wrong. Get comfortable with speaking out against things that are sexist or degrading.
If you hear someone blaming a victim of rape by asking: “What was she wearing?” or “Was she
drunk?” ask him or her what difference does it make? Rape is the fault of the rapist! No excuses!
If you think someone is being abused , offer to help. Tell them about WoMen Against Rape and
encourage them to get help.
If a friend, family member or colleague tells you she's experienced violence the most important
thing you can do is listen to her, believe her and make sure she knows where to get help.
If you experience sexual harassment at work, like touching your body, suggestive jokes, explicit
emails, staring, questions about your personal/sex life, or unwanted requests for sex, report it to
your manager.
Talk to the other people in your life, especially your children and other family members, about
your commitment to preventing violence against women and children and encourage them to do
the same.
For further information on Preventing Violence Against Women see “In Her Shoes” Handbook pages 22-24.
Here are some warning signs of an abusive relationship.
She seems afraid of her partner or is always very anxious to please him or her.
She has stopped seeing her friends, family or neighbours, or cuts phone conversations short
when her partner is in the room.
Her partner often criticises her or humiliates her in front of other people.
Her partner controls the money, tells her who she can see and what she can do.
She often talks about her partner’s ‘jealousy’, ‘bad temper’ or ‘possessiveness’.
She has become anxious or depressed, has lost her confidence, or is unusually quiet.
She has physical injuries, which she struggles to explain.
Her children seem afraid of her partner, have behaviour problems, or are very withdrawn or
She is reluctant to leave her children with her partner.
After she has left the relationship, her partner is constantly calling her, harassing her, following
her, coming to her house or waiting outside.
If you, or someone you know, are in immediate danger then call the police on 999.
If you need advice, protection or support call
o WoMen Against Rape +267 71311244 in Maun or the
o Botswana Gender Based Violence Prevention and Support Center in Gaborone
Landline: 3907659, Cellphone: 74265081 or send Help to 16510.
Childline Botswana Toll Free: 11611 (http://childlinebotswana.org/)
Botswana Family Welfare Association see website for branches around the country
Other sources of help include: churches, social workers, clinics and hospitals, doctors, nurses,
teachers (especially guidance and counselling teachers).