It’s a given that festivals exist for people to enjoy themselves, let loose and feel free while watching their favorite bands perform. You should feel safe while being surrounded by those who share the same interest and joy. Unfortunately, there’s a history of people taking advantage of this freedom with sexual assault. According to The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), more than 25 Festival websites will participate in a “blackout” on Monday (8) for 24 hours to raise awareness of on-site sexual assault. Music festivals based in the UK hold a zero tolerance policy to sexual assault with their new ‘Safer Spaces’ campaign.
This campaign was launched by AIF who received help from Rape Crisis England & Wales, Girls Against, Safe Gigs For Women and the White Ribbon Campaign. The festival organizers are committed to training their staff and volunteer members on sexual violence related issues. Therefore, they are taking this very seriously and rightfully so, with a zero tolerance policy.
To spread the word, these are the current list of UK festivals which are shutting down their websites on Monday at 9 AM:
Always the Sun
Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival
End of the Road
Eisteddfod, Field Day
Heb Celt Fest
Nozstock The Hidden Valley
Secret Garden Party
Strawberries & Creem
The Vicars Picnic
Their sites may disappear, but there will be an extensive amount of activity on the fests’ social media sharing messages with hashtag #saferspaceatfestivals, to encourage festival-goers to participate in this campaign.
Their key messages are:
Zero Tolerance to Sexual Assault
Hands Off Unless Consent
Don’t Be a Bystander
Renae Brown, campaign manager at AIF, said:
“This campaign is building upon the positive measures that are already being taken by our members. We are reiterating that we have a zero tolerance towards any form of sexual harassment or assault at our events. Our members already take very seriously their responsibilities as event organisers, and by taking guidance from Rape Crisis England & Wales, Girls Against, Safe Gigs For Women and the White Ribbon Campaign we are aiming to tackle these issues in both a sensitive and impactful way – pushing awareness of sexual safety to the fore, while ensuring all those working onsite are properly trained, and that UK festivals continue to provide the safest, securest and most enjoyable environment for their customers.”
According to Rape Crisis England & Wales, more than half a million adults are sexually assaulted in England and Wales each year. Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped. This is in England alone, and who knows how many world-wide.
Sexual assault should be taken very seriously, and hopefully more festivals, including ones in America, should follow this campaign.