Festivals: Music, Sun & Sexual Assault
Glastonbury starts the summer festival season!
This weekend thousands of people will gather at Worthy Farm – rain or shine – for the king of all festivals, Glastonbury! With many travelling to hear their favourite artist play and to spend a long weekend enjoying the company of friends, the thought of sexual assault couldn’t be further from people’s minds.
However, this is sadly becoming a reality for festivals in recent years.
On June 11th 2017 at Download Festival, a woman was raped in the car park by a man who she had met that evening.
In 2015, there were three individual sexual assault allegations from the Glastonbury four day weekend. The same year, two men were arrested at Reading for the rape of a woman.
There were a further 38 sexual assaults allegations made at a teen music festival in Stockholm in 2016.
In England and Wales, only 15% of rapes reported to police with an average 11 women and 2 men are raped every hour.
It’s a growing issue that is not improving.
What is being done?
In the lead up to this year’s festival season, I contacted several of the larger festivals that will attract the thousands. I was particularly interested in Glastonbury; I myself have never been but have had countless friends tell me tales of how incredible their experience was.
Glastonbury replied, “The welfare of our Festival goers has always, and remains a key concern of the whole team involved in the event. We have info/welfare points across the site and over 50,000 stewards on site.”
Although they confirmed they would have stewards on site should anyone need any assistance, they did not address my question if they believed sexual assault was an issue in festivals today, they responded they were too “flat out” to go into detail.
Dylan Williams, a 26 year old Digital Communications Coordinator from East London who is attending this year’s Glastonbury festival said, “I think sexual assault is something I would definitely consider being an issue with all festivals.”
“Whilst there is that feeling at Glastonbury that everyone looks after everyone else, I’m sure this isn’t always the case.”
Lizzie Tillmanns, 28, a Fashion Merchandiser from London agreed with this, though added: “It’s not something I’ve really thought about. I think I would be wary of walking around by myself when it’s dark, but would take the same precautions I would at home.”
How to stay safe?
Whilst Glastonbury has remained relatively quiet on these issues, many other festivals are actively taking steps to ensure all their attendees are safe whilst at the festival.
The Association of Independent Festivals launched the campaign Safer Spaces At Festivals to encourage venues across the country to take a stand against the issue with 70 festivals endorsing their campaign, including V Festival and Latitude, missing from the list was sadly Glastonbury.
Although the summer festival season is only just starting, there are ways to keep you safe whilst having a good time with friends. We recommend you read Safer Spaces ‘Sexual Safety Welfare Guide’.
If you are consuming alcohol, stay hydrated and carry water with you at all times. Familiarise yourself with venue and learn where stewards are positioned. You are never at fault for any unwanted sexual contact. You have every right to say ‘no’ at any point when you feel uncomfortable.
To learn more about Sexual Assault, click here.
If you see anything suspicious or are concerned about an individual, call emergency services on 999 or 112.