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Bråvalla 2018 axed after repeat of sexual assaults

There will be no Bråvalla festival in 2018 following several incidences of sexual violence at this year’s event, promoter FKP Scorpio has announced.

Swedish police said on Saturday they had received reports of one rape and 11 sexual assaults at the Norrköping festival, which ran from Wednesday 28 June to Saturday 1 July. The rape occurred during a performance by Swedish artist Håkan Hellström on Friday night (30 July).

There were five reported rapes at Bråvalla last year, although two of the allegations were later withdrawn. Speaking to IQ at the time, FKP Scorpio CEO Folkert Koopmans said future festivals would have more security, lighting and CCTV cameras in a bid to prevent a repeat of the events of 2017.

In a statement, FKP says that, in light of the attacks, the decision has been taken to axe cancel year’s festival. “Words cannot describe how incredibly sad we are about [the assaults], and we most seriously regret and condemn them.

“This is not OK. We do not accept this at our festival”

“This is not OK. We do not accept this at our festival. Therefore, we have decided not to organise Bravålla in 2018.”

In a nod, perhaps, to its Wo geht’s nach Panama? initiative, FKP says it takes pride in encouraging visitors to report instances of sexual assault and “inviting our visitors to talk about it with us and each other”. However, it says, “some men” simply “cannot behave. It’s a shame.”

The company adds that it had done everything in its power to create a “safe festival experience” at Bråvalla 2017 – which was headlined by the likes of The Killers, Linkin Park, System of a Down, Prophets of Rage and The Chainsmokers – and that the festival had been “the best in many respects”, with a “great mood” and overall crime down.

“We will continue to work together for a better world,” concludes the FKP statement. “We hope you are with us. Let’s take care of each other, choke hatred and violence, and let the music prevail.”

 


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Need help at Southside? Just head for Panama…

Anyone feeling unsafe at Hurricane, Southside, Highfield, M’era Luna, Chiemsee Summer, A Summer’s Tale and Deichbrand festivals this summer need only ask one question – “Which way to Panama?” – to receive assistance, as part of a new anti-harassment scheme being trialled by FKP Scorpio.

The idea, says FKP marketing manager Katja Wittenstein, is to provide festivalgoers with a simple question (“Wo geht’s nach Panama?” in German) that they can ask stewards, staff, police and paramedics in order to request help without having to divulge the nature of the situation.

The asker will then be taken to ‘Panama’ – or any private space away from the crowds – to explain what they have seen or experienced. Everyone who ‘knows the way to Panama’ will be wearing a green and red wristband emblazoned with ‘Panama’.

The introduction of Wo geht’s nach Panama? follows similar initiatives in Australia, where Laneway attendees can call an anonymous hotline to report “disrespectful behaviour”, and the UK, where 60+ AIF members have agreed to implement a zero-tolerance policy to any form of harassment and the provision of confidential welfare to victims of an assault.

Everyone who ‘knows the way to Panama’ will be wearing a green and red wristband emblazoned with the word

There were five sexual assaults at FKP Scorpio’s Bråvalla festival in Norrköping, Sweden, last year.

“When we heard about this concept, which originally came from England, we were enthusiastic about the clear logic and effectiveness,” explains Wittenstein. “Festivals are a lot of fun, but they can also lead to sensory overload: There are people everywhere, it is loud, it is lively, it is colourful…

“An unusual observation or encounter with other people can be felt to be threatening, and both women and men can feel oppressed or harassed.”

A similar scheme is also in use in the German city of Munster, where clubgoers need only ask for “Luisa” to receive help.

 


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Minister: No rise in sex attacks at Swedish fests

Despite multiple sexual assaults at two Swedish festivals last summer, the incidence of sexual harassment at live music events in Sweden is less frequent than it was two decades ago, interior minister Anders Ygeman has said.

Speaking yesterday at concert industry conference Sweden Live, Ygeman said: “Sexual molestation at festivals is, in my eyes, less common now than 20 years ago.”

The minister’s views were echoed by Kristina Ljungros, chairwoman of sex-education nonprofit RFSU, who said her organisation does “not believe that crimes have increased”. Ljungros, who joined Ygemen, FKP Scorpio’s Kajsa Apelqvist and We Are Stockholm’s Eve Widgren on a panel discussion on sexual harassment at concerts, added, however, that “it’s good we’re talking about it now” and that “we all have a responsibility” to prevent sexual assaults, reports SVT.

“Sexual molestation at festivals is, in my eyes, less common now than 20 years ago”

Widgren, meanwhile, said “sensational” media reporting has contributed to a sense that sexual assaults are on the rise in Sweden, even if that’s not the case.

More than 35 sex attacks were reported at the Putte i Parken festival in the first weekend of July, with a similar spate of assaults also affecting FKP Scorpio’s Bråvalla festival the same weekend.

FKP Scorpio chief executive Folkert Koopmans later clarified to IQ that of the five initial reports of rape at Bråvalla, two were withdrawn and three would be better described as sexual harassment. “Swedish women are encouraged to stand up and report any type of sexual harassment – much more so compared to most other countries,” he explained. “As a result we receive a high number of reported rapes and other incidents.”

 


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FKP Scorpio responds to Bråvalla assaults

FKP Scorpio chief executive Folkert Koopmans has responded to reports of five rapes at its Bråvalla festival in Norrköping, Sweden, last weekend, clarifying the nature of the allegations but reiterating the promoter’s commitment to ensuring the safety of all festivalgoers.

In a statement provided to IQ, Koopmans (pictured) revealed that of the five initial reports of rape, two have since been withdrawn and three would be better described as sexual harassment and took place in busy crowds, in common with the similar reports from Pukke in Park the same weekend and Schlossgrabenfest in Cologne in May.

“In Sweden we work very hard to protect women, and therefore the police initially report many kinds of sexual crimes as rape,” explains Koopmans. “The law was created to protect the victims, and Swedish women are encouraged to stand up and report any type of sexual harassment – much more so compared to most other countries. As a result we receive a high number of reported rapes and other incidents.

“We had five incidents during the festival. Three of them happened in front of the stages (sexual harassment), and two of them were reported from couples who actually knew each other. Both of those cases have been taken back.”

Bråvalla 2016 actually had the highest level of security since the festival’s founding in 2013, explains Koopmans. “For the 2016 festival we increased the amount of guards, safety personnel sand on-site police officers,” he says. “In total there were about 600 people working with safety on the festival. The public areas around the stages were prioritised areas where we always had a lot of safety personnel.

“We had safety personnel stands on raised platforms in the middle of the audience to have a good sight from above. We made sure that we didn’t have any dark spots on the area, and if we found any when the festival was ongoing we solved that.”

“We had five incidents during the festival. Three of them happened in front of the stages, and two of them were reported from couples who actually knew each other, both of which have been taken back”

He adds that for future events “we will make sure we have even more guards, more lights and, if we get permission from the authorities, an a HD security-camera system monitoring the audience during show times”.

Despite the three confirmed assaults, Koopmans says he was told by police that the festival was “the safest and calmest Bråvalla festival ever”. “Considering we had an average of around 45,000 people on the festival every day for four days, the police made clear that both the festival audience and the festival organisation had done a great job,” he says. “But we did have tragic incidents that a few sick male individuals were responsible for.”

He concludes: “We will not rest until we can arrange a Bråvalla festival free from all sex crimes. We will continue to work very hard with the issue, and among other things we will keep talking to our visitors about consent and respect and working with organisations which specialise in educating the public about sexual violence, equality and consent.

“We are still evaluating what more we can do, and we will do everything in our power to stop any sexual violence at our festival.”

Headliners Mumford & Sons said earlier this week that they wouldn’t play Bråvalla again “until we’ve had assurances from the police and organisers that they’re doing something to combat what appears to be a disgustingly high rate of reported sexual violence”. Only time will tell Koopmans’s response has gone some way to assuaging their fears.

 


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