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Jogger tired of being targeted by leering industry workers

A female jogger in Gladstone says every morning she deals with verbal assaults, sexual advances and disgusting gestures while out running.
A female jogger in Gladstone says every morning she deals with verbal assaults, sexual advances and disgusting gestures while out running. Mike Richards

A MORNING jog has become a nightmare for Micayla Illsen, who fears taunts from male motorists may be the precursor for something more sinister.

"I've been relentlessly targeted by shallow industry workers for months now," she said.

"Every morning without fail, I deal with verbal assaults, sexual advances and disgusting gestures."

The 20-year-old woman is apprehensive about continuing her exercise regime while she is subject to sexual harassment.

"One car in particular frightens me when it drives slowly behind me with the driver and passenger yelling out the window," she said.

"I have headphones in as I run; I don't know how long they've been following me. They might know where I live."

The south Gladstone resident says she shouldn't have to change her daily routine to get away from individuals who seek gratification.

"The behaviour of men in Gladstone is truly disgusting," she said.

"They see a female and think it's acceptable to intimidate her, or it's within their rights to approach her."

The Australian Human Rights Commission labels sexual harassment as any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour, which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.

Of all the complaints received by the Commission under the Sex Discrimination Act in 2009-10, one in five related to sexual harassment.

Unacceptable behaviour which falls under the umbrella term of sexual harassment may include repeated or one-off incidents, obvious or indirect, physical or verbal and perpetrated by the opposite or same sex.

Sexual harassment is also disproportionately directed at women.

"It makes me sick to think just because I am a woman, and I have the appropriate sexual organs, that I wear a target on my back wherever I go," said Ms Illsen.

"It's not alright to be made to feel vulnerable and I want men to realise that it is not okay. I don't want my daughter to think its normal."

While Ms Illsen has provided a statement to police, she is now wary with the times she chooses to exercise, and the places she ventures to.

Unfortunately, the commonality of sexual harassment is an encounter almost every woman will confront at some point in her life.

Sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to staring, unnecessary familiarity, suggestive comments, insults or taunts of a sexual nature, sending sexually explicit emails or text messages, inappropriate advances on social networking sites or requests for sex or repeated unwanted requests for dates.

SAFETY TIPS

  • If you feel you are in danger, call the police.
  • If possible, walk with a friend or family member, or even a dog.
  • Report any threatening or intimidating behaviour.
  • Stay in well-lit, occupied areas while in public.
  • Carry a mobile phone wherever you go, providing an avenue to contact help and to identify perpetrators.
  • Empower your confidence through self-defence classes.

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