A UCC criminology graduate is running 50km while wearing an inflatable sumo wrestler suit in a bid to raise awareness about sexual violence.
As part of a fundraiser for the Sexual Violence Centre Cork, Lainey Sands, with the help of Sinead Logue and Lana Merkusheva, has been taking part in weekly runs while wearing an inflatable sumo wrestler suit to raise both awareness and funds for the cause.
The inspiration for the idea came from a combination of the criminology graduate's knowledge from her studies, the rise in domestic violence during the pandemic and the hopes of highlighting the work of Mary Crilly and Cork’s Sexual Violence Centre.
However, as the challenge commenced, the need to raise awareness about sexual violence and harassment became more apparent.
By wearing sumo suits while completing the challenge, 22-year-old Lainey said that she and her friends hope to draw attention to the cause.
“So far it has gotten a huge amount of attention and traction but the other day, we were kind of shaken up a bit I suppose because we were running around Cork and as we were running around in the sumo suits, we were catcalled and sexually harassed," she said.
“This just goes to show it really doesn’t matter what you are wearing, you will still get this unsolicited behaviour.
“We actually looked at each other and we said we have to keep going because this is the exact reason why we are running,” she added.
She said that she was “shocked” by the incidents and surprised that the behaviour came from guys of a similar age.
“You just wouldn’t expect that behaviour from 23-year-olds, and I think as well, what was highlighted is they were kind of egging each other on and nobody called each other out.” She added that they appeared to find their own behaviour “funny”.
“But it’s not funny because that mentality is the problem and that mentality feeds into other forms of sexual violence,” she added.
Lainey, with the support of Sinead Logue and Lana Merkusheva, will be finishing the 50km running challenge over the coming weeks.
Donations to the fundraiser can be made here.