Imagine one of your friends going for a run one night and never seeing her again. It may be hard to comprehend, but unfortunately, a story like this has become increasingly more common in today’s society.
Mollie Tibbetts, an Iowa State student, was recently found dead a month after being reported missing when she went on her regular evening run. An illegal immigrant from Mexico, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, has been charged with first-degree murder after he saw her running, and then pursued and abducted her.
Tibbetts’ story has attracted plenty of attention that has helped continue a national conversation about women’s safety. Political leaders, national news coverage and the #MilesForMollie campaign have gotten a young woman from a small town in Iowa to become a household name across America.
Mollie Tibbetts has inspired women to talk openly about their own fears and incidents when running alone. Women’s safety on and off the running route has continued to be a major topic of discussion in America’s society; however, Tibbetts’ tragic fate is not the only one that has moved the conversation forward.
In 2016, three women in Michigan, New York and Massachusetts were reported dead while running alone in the span of nine days. In 2017, Vanessa Marcotte was killed during her run in Princeton, Massachusetts. Her case inspired a tribute run during the Boston Marathon and the Vanessa Marcotte Foundation, which focuses on reducing violence against women.
Though positive changes are being made in the world of women’s safety, there are many more steps that need to be taken.
According to survey results, 63 percent of female runners choose routes they don’t think they will be harmed on, 60 percent only run in the daytime and 70 percent let someone know when they go for a run. These statistics show how women have to actively think about their safety while simply trying to enjoy a run.
When people talk about women’s safety when running, the majority of the responses are saying to not let women go running alone. Though this makes sense to solve the problem, women should not have to sacrifice running alone if that is what they enjoy. Safety in general should be a priority for everyone, no matter what gender.
The cases of getting abducted or murdered while on a run are rare, which is why they are so high profile; however, the instances of experiencing harassment while on a run are much more common.
Whether it is honking, whistling or receiving unwanted comments, 58 percent of women under the age of 30 have experienced some form of harassment while simply trying to go on a run.
30 percent of women have been followed and 18 percent have been sexually propositioned while on a run. These statistics not only show how unsafe running alone can be for women, but also show the fact that men do not have to think twice before lacing up their sneakers.
There are tips for women who decide to run alone that include: carry pepper spray, don’t run with music playing, change up your running route and always bring your cell phone. Women can also try to run on safe streets, run during daylight and always have a phone with you in case of an emergency. Also, make sure you always tell someone before you go for a run and where you will be.
Running is a way to escape for a few miles and relieve stress. These instances in the news have reminded us to be safe while running, and if we decide to run alone we have to be smart about it. Running can still be enjoyable and great exercise; we just need to stay aware while on the trail.
It is not one person’s fault for why our society is the way it is. Though women's rights in the United States are continuously improving, there is still plenty of progress to be made. The subject of women’s safety is on the forefront of discussion — however, the conversation needs to continue past a tragic headline.