Woman on 4 Year 1800 Mile Journey in Support of Rape Survivors
Eight months ago, Claire McFarlane set out on a journey in support of rape survivors in a campaign that has taken her across the world, spreading her message one step at a time.
On July 18, 2017 McFarlane began running 3000 kilometers (1864 miles) of beach across 184 countries in a campaign called Footsteps To Inspire, formerly ProjectBRA. The global beach run will take four years to complete and has already taken her to 16 countries.
With the US being her 17th stop, McFarlane has stops planned both on Maui and Oʻahu. She begins the first leg of her US visit with a 16km beach run at Kāʻanapali Beach from 3 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 2, 2017.
According to McFarlane, there are 15 people so far who have said they will join her on Maui–some to run and others to just cheer her on. They include Maui residents and a cross section which includes friends, members of social service organizations and people wanting to raise awareness for survivors of sexual violence.
While on Maui, McFarlane said she is meeting with a number of organizations and services supporting survivors. She notes that April is Sexual Awareness Month in the US, and “a perfect time for the run and to be talking about this issue.”
“I chose to embark on this epic social adventure in response to my own personal trauma,” said McFarlane. “In 1999, I was brutally raped and left for dead on the streets of Paris. What followed was a long, costly struggle through the French justice system that only came to an end on Oct. 1, 2015. The ordeal lasted 16 years in total. Through sharing my own story of survival, I’ve become an advocate for survivors of sexual violence,” she said.
According to McFarlane, Footsteps To Inspire is about peaceful dialogue and a positive vision of change for survivors of sexual violence across the globe. She said it is also a world first, both as an expedition and social cause.
“I’ve chosen to use a very different medium to talk about rape, that is adventure and sport. Sport unites us and often brings people together to make a stand for something they believe in. Sport is also empowering and important in the healing process,” said McFarlane. “Sport/adventure allows people who wouldn’t typically talk about sexual violence to start a dialogue. And it is also my way of sharing my own personal story of survival to give others the courage to break their silence and know they are not alone.”
According to McFarlane, her efforts have resulted in an invitation to speak at TEDx United States Virgin Islands in June 2016. She has also been invited back again this year. Additionally, Elle Magazine nominated her as one of 50 incredible women shaping the continent of Africa.