Sexual assaults happen at festivals – this is done against it and that’s what we want
A balmy evening, your favorite band is playing live on stage at sunset, the beer is cold (and if not, not too bad), the BFFs are singing along just as wrong and loud as you are, everyone is hugging… That’s it it, the festival life, the best life.
But no matter which music festival you visit, especially women* (we’re talking about women* here because they are particularly affected, but would like to point out that intersex, non-binary, trans and agender people can also be affected, hence the asterisk ) questions like these are asked every hour: Can I wear this or will I be stared at non-stop and harassed? After dusk, can I go alone to the dixi toilets off the main stage, back where everything isn’t perfectly floodlit? What do I do if I lose my crew and have to wander alone across the dark campground? Can I crowd surf without being touched by strangers in places where I don’t want them to?
To be clear, of course, neither darkness nor choice of dress, swimming in a crowd or anything else justifies sexual harassment. Only the perpetrators are to blame (not gendered, because in the vast majority of cases these are cis men, i.e. men who identify with their gender assigned from the outside).
Sexual assaults at festivals: This happened
The organizers of Summer Breeze made five cases of sexual assault public in 2022 – one of them was so serious that it even constituted a criminal offense of rape. Bråvalla Festival in Sweden was canceled after almost 30 reports of rape and sexual harassment were received by the police in 2017. There is a statistic from Great Britain, the nation of Glasto and Co.: According to a survey by the opinion research institute YouGov, every third festival visitor there has already been the victim of sexist attacks. “Unwanted and intrusive dancing” was named as the most common type of harassment.
But the purely physical component is just the tip of the iceberg: how many women* have been confronted with catcalling and sexually suggestive slogans on t-shirts at festivals? These are things that are unfortunately commonplace for many visitors, but of course they are still sexual harassment. “Beer for boobs” shirts, penis hats, the hotness scale from 1 to 10, which one involuntarily faces on the way to the next concert, and stupid sayings seem to be part of the festival repertoire for some visitors. Whoever complains about it, too often gets more stupid jokes and boos to hear. The good manners? They were exchanged for the admission wristband at the entrance to the site. Tired, all of that. An equal and all-round safe festival life? Regularly gets lost somewhere between the main stage, club tent and the dixi toilets away from the main stage.
Sexual assaults at festivals: This is how organizers counteract it
Festival organizers are of course trying to make their premises a safe place for all visitors. But it’s not that easy with up to 150,000 party-loving visitors, who often descend on the festival grounds with very different ideas.