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Shot By Her Boyfriend And Now Using A Wheelchair, She Found A ‘New Me’

Malebogo Molefhe, a leader of a 2017 International Women of Courage award, during a U.S. Department of State

Ryan Eskalis/NPR


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Ryan Eskalis/NPR

Malebogo Molefhe, a leader of a 2017 International Women of Courage award, during a U.S. Department of State

Ryan Eskalis/NPR

When people find out that Malebogo Malefhe uses a wheelchair since she was shot by her boyfriend, a initial doubt they ask is: “What did we do to him?”

Now Malefhe, who postulated 8 bullets from her beloved of 10 years, wants to make certain that no lady who has faced domestic abuse is asked this doubt ever again.

The occurrence in 2009 scarcely cost Malefhe her life. Since then, she has clinging herself to fighting gender-based assault in her local Botswana and training women that when organisation harm them, it’s not their fault.

How One Woman Found The Courage To Say No To Domestic Abuse

This year, a U.S. State Department gave her a 2017 International Women of Courage award. Now in a 11th year, a esteem recognizes women who have put their lives on a line to urge their communities.

“Malebogo is being respected for her tenacity, strength and resilience to assistance other women and girls overcome a flay of domestic violence,” pronounced Thomas A. Shannon Jr., undersecretary for domestic affairs during a State Department, vocalization during a awards rite in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

Malefhe, 37, a former basketball actor for Botswana’s inhabitant team, also advocates for a enrichment of women in sports, with a concentration on women with disabilities. She spoke with us about a shooting, her goals and how she stays encouraged to assistance others. This speak has been edited for length and clarity.

It’s a comfortless story. After your beloved shot you, he took his possess life.

They call it passion killing, and it’s been a trend [in Botswana] over a past 15 to 20 years. You hear stories of organisation in relations who remonstrate about certain things, afterwards brutalize women or hang themselves.

Passion killings seem to be a common subject in a news, and there’s been a investigate about their description in a media. And in a six-month period in 2009, a military reported 89 deaths in Botswana from crimes of passion — 7 organisation and 82 women. Where do we consider this horrific materialisation stems from?

We have informative norms that extent women, like a bride’s cost — a dowry. It end women to organisation and creates organisation consider that once they have paid a price, afterwards they possess a woman. Culturally, women are not authorised to pronounce out opposite their husbands. When they try to speak to them or voice their concerns, organisation turn threatened. They don’t unequivocally like it. So they take action.

You hardly survived. You were left with spinal cord injuries and now we use a wheelchair. How did we find a strength to overcome it all?

I don’t wish to distortion — it was one of a scariest moments of my life. It was not easy. My damage was extensive. we roughly mislaid my life. we had to learn how to use my physique again. we had to learn to live over again. My friends and family stood by me and gave me a wish to keep vital my life.

To find myself in that unfounded array took so many bravery to rise. And when we did, we looked during my life and said, we can use my story to assistance women. If we don’t tell my story, who else is going to do that?

Did we ever feel contemptible for yourself?

Yes we did. Absolutely, we felt [starts to cry] contemptible for myself so many times. we regretted so much. It was not like it usually happened that night. The red flags had always been there. we usually indispensable to have speckled a impulse and left.

How are we assisting women make certain they never have to go what we went through?

I tell women to demeanour during a signs while they still have a time. Walk out while they still have a chance. They might not have a same event as me. Some women have mislaid their lives since of violence. Others have been sealed adult in a mental establishment since they’ve mislaid their mind since of a beatings or abuse.

I tell women that each time a crime is perpetrated, they should news it. But they news issues of abuse, afterwards repel them. It’s formidable for authorities to follow adult on their issues or support them accordingly. Women need preparation to open them adult to a fulfilment that abuse is prevalent and they need to find ways to overcome it.

What partial of your story surprises them a most?

My strength. It still shocks me as well. we don’t drown in self-pity. That is past now. Now we am a new me, in a wheelchair.

Malebogo Malefhe during a inhabitant basketball contest in Gaborone, Botswana, 2003. She’s in a initial row, distant left.

Courtesy of Malebogo Malefhe


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Courtesy of Malebogo Malefhe

You were a basketball actor on Botswana’s inhabitant organisation before we were shot. How are we staying connected to sports?

I’m perplexing to get people in wheelchairs to extract in a Paralympics. I’m perplexing to get as many women concerned in this as possible. At this point, I’m a usually one personification [basketball] with men. But we know there are so many women who have this same potential.

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You’re also a champion of “self-love.” What does that mean, exactly?

We accommodate monthly with a organisation of girls. They are from tiny villages, impoverished; many are propagandize dropouts. We learn them a value of vital your purpose. To do that, they have to demeanour inside themselves and note what they wish to do with their lives. If they know this, it will assistance them be observant about their possess lives.

It seems like you’ve found your purpose.

I’m usually in a right place.