Now that December has finally reared its chilly head, join the Jingle Bell Run in Richmond, Virginia, this Saturday to ring in the holiday season – literally. On December 6, runners will flaunt their winter spirit through 5 kilometers of jingle-jangle fun.Richmond’s annual Jingle Bell Run has been voted “one of the Most Incredible Themed Races nationwide,” and just one look at the crowd will show you why. Forget about those nice running tights and fancy sweat-wicking shirt: Santa hats and elf costumes take the stage instead. The dress-code calls for your best holiday costume, so leave your athletic gear at home and suit up! Plus, celebrate with every step by tying jingle bells to your shoelaces and give those 3.15 miles a special soundtrack.In addition to spreading some good holiday cheer, the Jingle Bell Run has yet another good deed up its sleeve. Proceeds from the event go toward Arthritis aid, in the form of research funding, scholarships, trainers, medical fees, and public education. With a huge goal of $45,000 nationwide, every dollar makes a difference. Plus, if you raise $100 on top of your registration, you’ll walk away with both a Sport Tec wicking shirt and a coveted “Fundana”. We’re sure that the Jingle Bell Run itself is incentive enough for BRO’s , but hop on board with these extras and give the Arthritis Foundation even more of a boost! Santa’s watching…The race begins at 7 a.m. on Saturday, December 6, at Stony Point Fashion Park just outside the city. Register online anytime before race day, or on-site the morning of, for just $30. Bring the kids and your pets, too – the event is stroller- and leash-friendly, and children can run themselves for half-price. Release some cabin fever, get a head start on your New Year’s goals, or just come have fun at the Jingle Bell Run!
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When Namibian activist Venicia Shanjenka first saw the tweet naming and shaming a rapist in the tiny southern African country of 2.5 million, she thought it was a brave but isolated act.But one tweet turned into hundreds, and #MeTooNamibia erupted into a growing movement backed by the first lady, Monica Geingos, that is using social media to track down sexual predators, and offer survivors psychosocial and legal support.”For a small country, we were alarmed at the number of women sharing stories online,” said Shanjenka, a 24-year-old make-up artist and one of the founding members of Slut Shame Walk, a women’s empowerment organization and member of #MeTooNamibia. Namibia’s unemployment rate stands at 33%, according to the country’s statistics agency.Geingos said with this prevalence of violence against women, it did not take long to start and build a movement.One day after the first tweet she brought together a consortium of activists and academics fighting violence against women under the #MeTooNamibia banner.Fears of reprisals “It definitely opened up conversations that were previously not easy to have … It was cathartic (for survivors),” said Geingos in an interview in a meeting room in the State House in the capital of Windhoek.The #MeToo movement began in the United States in late 2017 in response to accusations of sexual assault and harassment by movie producer Harvey Weinstein and quickly spread, emboldening women from Britain and France to India and Iran to speak out.According to the United Nations, it is estimated that 35% of women globally experience physical or sexual violence during their life, although some national studies say this number is as high as 70%.But the #MeToo movement has been slower to take off in Africa, where campaigners say many women fear reprisals for speaking out.”It is a bit of a minefield,” said Geingos, 43, a lawyer and former head of Namibia’s largest private equity fund, adding when women began naming sexual predators they started receiving threats of defamation lawsuits.Despite this, the movement has grown in scope and size, with 30 different organizations now involved.”They were fearless, in my view,” said Geingos.Namibia ranked 12 out of 153 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap.But activists said this was not an accurate measurement of gender-equality in Namibia, where topics like political empowerment are “tokenistic”, said Ndapwa Alweendo, one of the founders of a feminist podcast “Heard Not Seen”.”The government has a zebra policy in parliament: one man, one woman. But this isn’t enough as it is still a very traditional, conservative leadership,” said Alweendo with co-founder Paleni Amulungu from a coffee shop in Windhoek.”Heard Not Seen” uses humor and dialogue to disrupt taboo topics in Namibia, said the founders, with the podcast downloaded 5,000 times since starting in July 2018.Pan-African networkThe 30 civil society organizations working together under the #MeTooNamibia banner provide legal and psychosocial support for survivors of sexual assault, funded largely from the first lady’s own pocket.”We worked with police to set up a center [in Windhoek] where women can make cases. We got suicide risk cases into therapeutic care. Those being threatened with defamation were linked up with lawyers,” said Geingos.Despite efforts, there have been no convictions so far.”Women are still working through their fear of bringing their cases all the way to court,” said Shanjenka.”Sometimes they are intimidated, or sometimes their cases are more than two years old and there are limited investigative resources,” she said from her home, nursing her eight-month-old daughter.”Our success is the online traffic [on Instagram and Twitter]. It has become a safe space to go if you need to share your story and be heard.”Shanjenka said African countries were taking lessons from one another, with activists sharing pictures and tactics of sexual predators.”It has become a Pan-African support network,” she said.In 2014, Kenyan women protested with the slogan #MyDressismyChoice after a woman was beaten for wearing a miniskirt.Last year thousands of South African women took to the streets to protest using the slogan #AmINext? after a university student was raped and killed at a post office in Cape Town.In Senegal in late 2017, two women started a movement under the name #Nopiwouma, which means “I will not shut up” in the local Wolof language.But Geingos said the movement had a long way to go.”The one thing we don’t want to accept is to live in a world where women who’ve been raped are expected to keep quiet, and are portrayed as liars,” she said.”Every single man who’s not held accountable becomes a high risk to reoffend.” Topics : “We are currently using the testimonies from social media to build a sex offenders list for prosecutions,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, adding the private database would be taken to the Supreme Court and put online in the coming year.#MeTooNamibia, with partners such as Slut Shame Walk, are also campaigning for more female police officers, organizing panel discussions at schools and universities, and planning annual marches against the excuses men use to rape.Chief Inspector Hendrik Marthinus Olivier of the Gender Based Violence Protection Unit in Windhoek said they receive 300 to 400 domestic violence cases per month.”It is difficult to say why these numbers are so high for such a small country, but I think unemployment, drugs and alcohol play a big role,” he said in a phone interview, adding that they are working with social workers to tackle the issue.