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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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