Women carrying knives: this viral thread explains the rise in female runners carrying weapons

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Hollie Richardson
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The number of women who carry knives is on the rise, according to a new report. This viral Twitter thread could help to explain why some women carry knives while they’re out running. 

The number of women carrying knives in England has significantly risen since 2014, according to new data obtained by the BBC.

Worryingly, the figures show that there has been at least a 10% increase in knife possession among women each year over the last 15 years. In fact, there were 73% more records of women carrying a knife in 2018 than in 2014.

The big question is: why?

Well, the Home Office responded by saying that they are tackling the issue by injecting £220 million into steering young men and women away from violent crime. This comes after youth workers told the BBC that there are a number of women who carry weapons for gangs. 

But, as we previously reported, many women also choose to carry a weapon as a form of self-defence

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Running makes us happier and healthier, and yet it can also make women fear for their lives.

A 2017 report by England Athletics showed that one in three women were harassed while out running, with nearly half of female runners saying they don’t feel safe when out alone.

Running in groups is often suggested as a way of staying safe – but why should we have to? Sadly, a viral Twitter debate on women’s running safety proves just how bad it can be for women who run solo. 

A writer asked the question: what kind of protection do you use when you go out running?

Although many of the 800 replies from people around the world might sound shocking at first, they also build a true picture of the lengths women go to feel safe while exercising.

“One of my mom groups has a thread that is just women listing and recommending which kind of protection they take when them when they go out running (i.e. pepper spray, alarm necklaces, whistles, etc.) in case you wondered what being a woman is like,” wrote Amanda Deibert. “Also, women: what do you use when you go out running?”

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With running being one of the most common exercises, the answers came in fast and highlighted the different ways women protected themselves in their countries.

Perhaps most shockingly, many American women said they carry a knife to keep safe while running.  

“Exactly. Caught up with a male law school friend last night. As we parted, I said glad it was still early enough for me to take the train. He asked why. I said, if it’s too late, not safe for me to train it. He said: ‘I never thought about that.’ Must be nice,” wrote one woman.

“My daughter runs with a vest and we modified it to carry a knife which she knows how to use to devastating effect,” added a mother. 

Another wrote: “Knife, tactical flashlight, dog, and/or pepper spray. Phone. No head phones or one earbud only (in daylight). Never use a restroom on a trail/path unless someone is w/ me. But when I fell, cut open my chin, and still had 4 miles to get home was I carrying first aid? Now I do.”

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As it is illegal to carry a knife around in the UK, women use different tactics.

“And as an American living in the UK. None of the “protective devices” are legal over here. So I just run during daylight hours and stay very aware. I don’t hesitate to turn around and change my route if I feel unsafe,” said one user. 

One more shared: “I hold my keys in my first with the car key poking out to act as a weapon. I live in a leafy town in North London, UK and we have the same fears.” 

A woman in Japan also wrote: “It’s been a big conversation in Japan too. People discuss if it’s right for women and girls to carry a safety pin to protect themselves from gropers on trains during rush hours. I have been disgusted by some comments to say ’ It’s just groper, don’t overreact.”

And over in New Zealand, a women tweeted: “There is nothing I am legally allowed to carry for protection in New Zealand and I don’t have dogs so I don’t go running much less leave the house on my own when I can avoid it.”

One form of protection that most of the women who replied had in common was their pet dogs. 

“My daughter takes a 90lbs Pitbull,” wrote another mother. 

“I think a lot about how someone could physically pick me up off the street and kidnap me, but most people cross the street once they see River,” added a dog owner.

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Although carrying around knives is obviously a contentious issue, it’s the fact that so many women are doing this that really needs to continue being discussed here.

The BBC report further highlights the urgency to address this, before it reaches a critical and devastating point - if it hasn’t done so already. 

Images: Getty


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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…

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