Festivals are supposed to be safe places where you can let your hair down and free yourself of your day-to-day responsibilities. Yet, for women especially, they aren’t. In Sweden alone, reports of sexual assaults at festivals have soared. According to The Independent, police said they received reports of four rapes and 23 sexual assaults at Sweden’s largest festival Bråvalla this year. In light of the attacks the festival has decided to cancel its 2018 event.
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Upon hearing Bråvalla’s announcement, Swedish radio presenter and comedian, Emma Knyckare, tweeted: ‘What do you think about putting together a really cool festival where only non-men are welcome, that we’ll run until ALL men have learnt to behave themselves?’
She received an outpouring of support on social media, and later confirmed on her Instagram that she had garnered enough encouragement to start organising the first female-only festival next summer. ‘Sweden’s first man-free rock festival will see the light next summer,’ she confirmed.
‘In the coming days I'll bring together a solid group of talented organisers and project leaders to form the festival organisers, then you'll hear from everyone again when it's time to move forward.’
Sweden isn’t alone in its problem with sexual assault at festivals, but could pave the way for more to be done internationally.
In the UK on 8 May 2017, 28 festivals took part in an online ‘blackout’, replacing their websites for 24 hours with the message #saferspaceatfestivals to raise awareness of the issue. Also, at Glastonbury Festival last year the organisers created a space exclusively for people who self-identify as women. ‘Women only spaces are necessary in a world that is still run by and designed to benefit mainly men,’ the organisers said.