Thursday, February 14, 2013

Reclaiming the run

A little more than a year ago, Montana schoolteacher Sherry Arnold went out for a run and never came home. Two men had abducted and assaulted her barely a mile from her house, and it took two months for her body to be recovered.

Last year, her cousin Beth organised a virtual Run for Sherry to honour her memory - print out a bib, run as long and as fast as you like.

No one should have to feel threatened when they are out running on their own - no matter whether you're on a trail deep in the woods, or on the sidewalk in your housing estate. The annual Run for Sherry memorial run is a way of reclaiming that mental territory.

On Saturday (yes Chinese New Year's Eve) I did the virtual Run for Sherry with a new running friend, Holly and her husband - one loop around MacRitchie, one of my favourite places to run here.

After the run (I can't think and run at the same time - seriously) I thought about what happened to Sherry Arnold; and about the horrific Delhi bus attack last year, where a gang of men driving a mini-bus kidnapped and assaulted a young student and her male friend, leaving her so badly injured she died of her wounds.

A great deal has already been said about both of these cases; about violent crime; about a culture (particularly in some parts of Asia, but the US is not exempt) of harrassment and victim-blaming and complete disrespect for women's rights (And you wonder why women in this part of the world don't run? Well, now you know.) A great deal has been said, and better than I can say it.

But everyone - women in particular, since we ARE more often targeted and more vulnerable whether you like it or not - should have the freedom to move about the city, whenever and wherever we want. The Run for Sherry is about reclaiming that freedom.

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