Women the world over battle with constant harassment and the threat of attacks while trying to run or exercise outdoors.
A new adidas survey, involving 9 000 runners from nine different countries, found that 92% of women are concerned for their safety when going for a run.
A survey by Runner’s World magazine found that 84% of female respondents had experienced some form of harassment while out for a run, including physical assaults, catcalls, and being followed in the US.
According to the adidas study, 51% of women, compared to 28% of men, are afraid of physical assault; 38% of women have experienced physical or verbal harassment; of these, more than half have experienced unwanted attention (56%), sexist remarks or unwanted sexual attention (55%), being honked at (53%), or being followed (50%).
According to a survey done by 1st for Women in South Africa alone, up to 79% of South African women felt uncomfortable while jogging or running. This shockingly high percentage indicates that most women are prevented from exercising or running in public because of safety concerns.
Many women say an activity that men take for granted comes with a certain degree of fear, and it's led some women to take precautions like carrying makeshift weapons or changing their route on the fly.
Women joggers face an increased threat of physical harm or harassment according to international research.
“While these statistics are shocking, it is important to remember that an alarming number of cases go unreported," explains Seugnette van Wyngaard, Head of 1st for Women.
Take back your space safely
A 34-year-old Tennessee mother of two named Eliza Fletcher was kidnapped and brutally murdered last September according to reports by Runnerworld.
Van Wyngaard believes that the issue needs to be brought to light so that women can reclaim their space.
She provided the following safety advice for female joggers:
Join the Women for Change campaign: The website, launched in 2016 by Sabrina Walter, promotes female runners to take part in virtual races, and money raised from entrance fees is donated to organisations including Rape Crisis and the Tears Foundation.
Be aware of your surroundings: Headphones are fantastic for listening to music that motivates you to run, but they can also be used to block out background noise that might warn you of danger. If you feel you must use headphones, try to keep the volume down.
Stay in contact: Let someone know when you are going to be running and what route you will be following. Also, you can send them a quick text message to check in with them after your run.
Change your route: If you enjoy running as a workout, you probably also have a favourite running route. While staying in your comfort zone is perfectly acceptable, there are several advantages to changing up your jogging route, one of which is safety.
Attacks on people who are jogging are frequently spontaneous attacks carried out when a perpetrator sees a chance.
Avoid running in the dark or in remote locations, and try to diversify the times of your runs. You might change your schedule by running an hour earlier or later and switching around the days of the week that you run. Because predictable patterns raise additional security issues.
Carry a whistle: A sports whistle costs between R60 and R130, and if it's on a lanyard around your neck, you can swiftly raise the alarm if you feel insecure. The jarring sound may cause your attacker to flee.
Use an app to call for help: As an alternative, several panic buttons can be used on mobile devices or apps, such as the 1st for Women panic button, which you can use in any emergency situation if you feel unsafe.
Run in a group: There’s safety in numbers.
“These are all small steps you can take to ensure your personal safety while keeping your running practice on track,” said van Wyngaard.
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