Claire McFarlane - Footsteps To Inspire
- *Warning: this podcast contains mentions of sexual assault*
In July 2016 Claire McFarlane began running 3500km of beach across 230 countries to create a peaceful dialogue on sexual violence and support survivors. She has called the project 'Footsteps To Inspire'.
Claire chose to start this initiative in response to her own personal trauma. In 1999, she was brutally raped and left for dead on the streets of Paris. Ten years later her attacker was caught through DNA. What followed was a long, costly struggle through the French justice system that only came to an end in October 2015. The ordeal lasted 16 years. Claire realised that through sharing my own story of survival, she can inspire and help others. Since, she has been sharing her story and creating dialogue through local media and organisations in all the countries she visits (Switzerland is number 35) as well as her TEDx talk. The initiative is currently being registered as an NGO in Switzerland.
"In each country, I link with local communities, organisations, government services and survivors to share stories and understand what the issues, complexities and hopes are around sexual violence. Some join me as I run 16 kilometres barefoot along a stretch of beach, or lakeside. I will continue doing this until I have run in every country and dependency of the world," she told WRS.
"I rarely run alone and have noticed a common trend across the countries visited thus far: people want to talk about sexual violence, they just don’t know how to. Through Footsteps To Inspire, it feels like I'm creating that safe space for conversation and understanding.
"My presence in Switzerland is important, especially given the current opposition to the change in laws on rape. The actual law is retrograde with regards to the rest of the world and there are many people living in Switzerland who are not protected, including men, boys and LGBT communities."