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UK festivals sign anti-sexual harassment charter

AIF's Safer Spaces campaign reiterates its commitment to zero tolerance for sexual assault, and will be launched with a website black-out by more than 25 of its members

By Jon Chapple on 05 May 2017

End of the Road 2016, Django Django, AIF Safer Spaces

Django Django perform at End of the Road, a charter signatory, in 2016

image © Sonny Malhotra (@photosonny) for End of the Road

More than 60 members of the UK’s Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) have signed up to a charter of best practice aimed at promoting increased awareness of sexual assault.

The ‘Safer Spaces’ campaign – launched by AIF with guidance from Rape Crisis England and Wales, Girls Against, Safe Gigs for Women and the White Ribbon Campaign – aims to connect with music fans in the run-up to this summer’s festival season by emphasising participating festivals’ “zero tolerance” for sexual assault at their events.

Additionally, next Monday (8 May) more than 25 UK festivals, including Bestival, Parklife, End of the Road, Standon Calling, Kendal Calling, Boomtown Fair and the soon-to-end Secret Garden Party, will ‘black out’ their websites for 24 hours, directing visitors to click through to information about the Safer Spaces campaigns, and share an animated gif encouraging festivalgoers to play an active role in promoting safety.

Several festivals in Europe and Australasia have experienced incidents of multiple sexual assaults in the past 12 months, including Putte i Parken and Bråvalla in Sweden, Schlossgrabenfest in Germany and Falls Festival in Australia. Following the incidents at Falls Festival and a similar assault at Unify Gathering, Australia’s St Jerome’s Laneway Festival instituted a hotline (1-800 LANEWAY) for its attendees to report incidents of “disrespectful behaviour”.

AIF’s charter of best practice commits the festivals to:

  • A zero-tolerance policy towards any form of sexual harassment at their events
  • Provision of confidential welfare services to any victim of sexual assault
  • Ensuring staff and volunteers are trained to deal with issues relating to sexual violence
  • Taking a “victim-led approach” to sexual assault incidents

“It’s really positive to see event organisers commit to training and strategies aimed at preventing sexual assault and rape at festivals”

“This campaign is building upon the positive measures that are already being taken by our members,” says AIF campaign manager Renae Brown. “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 and 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 on site are properly trained and that UK festivals continue to provide the safest, securest and most enjoyable environment for their customers.”

Adds Rape Crisis’s Rebecca Hitchen: “It’s really positive to see event organisers commit to training and strategies aimed at preventing sexual assault and rape at festivals, as well as making sure those who do experience these crimes get access to appropriate support. Zero tolerance to sexual violence and encouraging festivalgoers not to be bystanders when they witness assaults are strong and crucial messages.”

AIF represents more than 60 independent British festivals.


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