Music festivals are meant to be spaces for people to relax, make new friends and enjoy music. The harsh reality is that many people attend with the expectation that they will not be safe in these environments.
The issue is worldwide. According to a study in the UK, 30% of women said they had been sexually harassed and 10% had been sexually assaulted.
Articles regarding sexual assault at music festivals have become a part of an annual news cycle, with the problems reaching beyond the acts of assault. Surrounding issues involve the lack of security, protocol and support in venues that entertain hundreds of thousands of people over a span of several days.
But are the festivals responsible for monitoring criminal behavior? As the debate about rape culture continues, festival goers should remain vigilant and aware.
The Bravalla Music Festival was the largest annual music event in Sweden with over 50,000 people in attendance for the 4-day event. However, organizers canceled the festival permanently in 2017 for dozens of reports of nonconsensual sexual contact over the years. Swedish police received four rape and 23 sexual assault reports at the 2017 festival alone. In 2016, there were five reports of rapes and at least 12 claims of sexual molestation.
The problem was so extensive that attendees at Sweden's Bravalla Festival in 2016 were given bracelets with the reminder: “Don’t grope.”
Kajsa Apelqvist, who represents the Bravalla Music Festival, said in response to the reports of sexual conduct, “We have always claimed that it is not a festival problem but a social problem. How we ensure our visitors’ safety is something we are constantly developing, and that’s something we’ll never finish.”
Coachella is the highest-grossing music festival in the world. In 2017, it grossed a record-setting $114,593,000. With its immense popularity comes the likelihood for mass inappropriate conduct by festival-goers.
One writer for Teen Vogue stated that in the ten hours reporting on a story of sexual assault at music festivals, she was groped an alarming 22 times. Fifty-four women who attended Coachella were interviewed by the reporter—all of whom shared a story of sexual assault.
19-year-old Ana said, "Of course sexual harassment happens here. It happens to us at all concerts. At Coachella, it is so many people that men will get away with touching you, and they think we don't notice. It happened to me many times.”
Another concert-goer, 16-year-old Regan stated, “Just the way people touch me when you’re walking through a crowd. Why are you touching me there? We’re trying to have fun and fit in here.” She continued, “It’s scary, and you can’t trust the random people around you to help you. And with those bigger men, it’s just harder, and it's scarier to say something to them because they might get angry and violent. Like if you’re not nice, they might hurt you.”
Coachella does not currently provide advice regarding sexual assault to those attending. Zero search results appear for “sexual assault” on the Coachella website. Ticket buyers receive special boxes that include passes for entry along with a welcome guide. The guide contains no information about how to get help if you are sexually assaulted at the event.
In 2015, a photo of a man wearing a vile “Eat, Sleep, Rape, Repeat” shirt at Coachella went viral. This display epitomizes rape culture. Marshall University describes rape culture as "an environment where rape is prevalent and sexual violence against women is normalized and excused."
Rape culture is one where there is a common use of misogynistic language, objectification of women’s bodies, and glamorization of sexual violence. The behavior encourages or allows a society to disregard women’s rights and safety.
The following are examples of rape culture:
As the details outlined above demonstrate, rape culture affects all women. Statistically, most women and girls live in fear of rape. Men, in general, do not.
Several groups have stepped forward to help combat the music festival sexual assault crisis:
These groups have begun the conversation, though concert-goers and organizers are encouraged to push for public safety. Sexual assault victims and the general public must continue to speak out and stand up for what is right to truly address the issue.
If you are headed to a festival in the near future, protecting yourself from harm begins with prevention. An honest understanding of the problem could help you identify a plan of action.
RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network has offered invaluable safety advice for concert-goers:
If you or a loved one has suffered sexual assault at a music event, you are not alone. Jessica Pride has dedicated the last ten years to helping sexual assault survivors reclaim their power. What has happened to you is not your fault, and Jessica is ready to hear your story.
Our team offers free, confidential case evaluations and the opportunity to speak with a woman about your experience. We will answer your questions and help you determine if filing a claim is right for you. Call Jessica Pride today at 619-516-8166 and take the first step towards your healing.
If you have been a victim of sexual assault, child sexual abuse, or workplace sexual harassment we are here to answer your questions, provide a free and confidential case evaluation, and connect you to resources. By contacting us, you consent to receive marketing communications and other advertisements from The Pride Law Firm.
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