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Swedes Create Festival for Women to Combat Harassment

Sweden has introduced a new music festival after a wave of sexual harassment at other festivals across the country. The country’s largest festival, Bravalla, had been cancelled this past year because organizers feared they could not guarantee guests a safe experience, leading to increased attention on the subject of harassment and assault at music festivals.

The Statement Festival made its debut this past August in Gothenburg, Sweden. It featured Swedish musicians, stand-up comedians, and poets, but the festival was unique in a large way: it was exclusively for women, transgender, and nonbinary individuals. Cisgender men (men who identify with the sex they were assigned at birth) were not welcome to attend the festival.

While some were angered over this decision on the grounds that it could be considered discriminatory, those who attended felt that a festival of this nature has been long overdue.

Stina Velocette, a musician who performed at the festival, commented on what average music festivals can be like for women, transgender, and nonbinary attendees. Velocette stated, “You cannot relax; you don’t feel safe. You have to hold your keys in your hand like a weapon. You have to hold your cellphone in your hand ready to call the police.”

The organizers of the music festival sought to make it a safe space for those in attendance. Not only was the venue itself comfortable, with pillows and seating available, but all of the technicians working were women. Other than lounging and listening to music, attendees enjoyed unique features including a bounce house and a tattoo stand.

Groovy Nicks, another musician, commented on the safety of the festival: “It’s awesome – calm and safe. I couldn’t have imagined this five, six years ago. There’s a very good atmosphere.”

Globally, the issue of harassment at music festivals has been extremely prevalent.

OurMusicMyBody, a campaign created to bring attention to the issues of sexual harassment within the music scene, conducted a survey in which 90 percent of women responded that they had experienced harassment when attending a music festival or venue. 1,286 acts of harassment were accounted for by respondents, who were able to check multiple options to best describe what had happened to them.

The vast amount of harassment that occurs during these events is shocking. Even more surprising is that many festivals and venues do not have guidelines in place for cases of harassment and assault that occur on the premises. OurMusicMyBody stepped up to the plate and helped festivals such as Lollapalooza, Pitchfork, and Riot Fest implement anti-harassment guidelines and policies for each event.

“Fans want to be able to go out to see their favorite band without having to worry that someone is going to disrespect their space. They want festivals and venues to actively support them and create a safer environment to enjoy these concerts,” stated OurMusicMyBody co-coordinator Matt Walsh.

An event such as The Statement Festival is revolutionary for its dedication to safety and a positive atmosphere. Despite this, it begs the question of why and how society let the issue of harassment at music events go for so long that a festival without cisgender men had to come into existence. Women, transgender, and nonbinary people should not fear for their safety when they attend these events. With music being such a powerful connection to the people around us, we must ensure music-related events to be enjoyable and safe for all.

Feature Image by danny howe on Unsplash

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