Feminists slam ‘controlling’ police for telling women to jog in groups to avoid threats and insults from men
- Women ‘often’ face sexual harassment or sexist abuse while out exercising
- Avon and Somerset Police’s #JogOn campaign intended to help them feel safer
- But their advice has been slammed as seeking to control women’s behaviour
- Feminists argue that it does not address the root causes of men abusing women
Police came under fire last night for urging women to jog in groups to avoid sexist abuse.
Avon and Somerset Police unveiled the #JogOn campaign to help women feel confident in parks and on footpaths.
It was launched with campaign group Bristol Zero Tolerance after complaints women feel intimidated or harassed when exercising.
Runners said they have been abused with comments such as ‘hey fatty, legs up, you can go faster than that.’
Avon and Somerset Police’s new #JogOn campaign urged women to jog in groups and stay alert to avoid sexual harassment or sexist abuse
Officers urged them to stay alert and to continue to enjoy exercising while making their safety a priority.
But a leading feminist labelled the campaign as another way of ‘controlling women’.
Karen Ingala Smith, of domestic violence charity Nia, said: ‘It is probably a pragmatic decision for women to make but I don’t think it’s right.
‘It is another example of how male violence is used to control and restrict all women.’
The police campaign was launched after evidence women are being abused while on the street.
They are urged to remain cool and ignore hecklers.
One victim said: ‘It’s mainly being shouted at in the street when on my bike – either derogatory comments about my weight or sexual comments.
‘I have also been grabbed by men reaching out of car windows while I cycle.’
Another said they had been followed by a man while out running and that cat callers often prey on those looking to improve their self-image.
‘The most hurtful comments have to be to our larger runners. It’s disgusting and really knocks their confidence,’ one said.
Det Supt Marie Wright said: ‘Not everyone can afford a gym membership and getting outside in the fresh air is good for your health and wellbeing.
‘I want to empower people to feel safe and confident whilst outside exercising.
Officers have urged women to stay alert and to continue to enjoy exercising while making their safety a priority (file picture)
‘Unfortunately, we know that some people, usually women, can feel uncomfortable, intimidated or scared to go out for a run, especially in the winter when the nights are longer and there is less opportunity to be outdoors during daylight.
‘Everyone should be able to enjoy the great outdoors and exercise wherever and whenever they choose to. Anyone who thinks it’s okay to harass and intimidate others is mistaken – your behaviour won’t be tolerated.’
Avon and Somerset crime Tsar Sue Mountstevens said: ‘As a keen runner myself, getting outside and exercising is not only good for your physical health but for your happiness and well being too.
‘Being catcalled or harassed while out exercising should not be the norm and #JogOn will hopefully empower people to put their trainers on and enjoy getting outdoors without being scared or intimidated.’
Last year the Metropolitan Police was criticised for advising women not to wear headphones when walking or jogging after a spate of sexual assaults.