UK music festivals have reiterated their zero tolerance to sexual assault with the launch of the Safer Spaces campaign.
More than 25 festival websites are to be “blacked out” for 24 hours on Monday, May 8 to increase awareness about sexual assault. The initiative has been launched by AIF, with guidance from experts at Rape Crisis England & Wales, Girls Against, Safe Gigs For Women and the White Ribbon Campaign.
As part of the campaign, the events will also share a short animation over social media with the hashtag #saferspacesatfestivals, encouraging festival-goers to play an active role in promoting safety, with three key messages: zero tolerance to sexual assault, hands-off unless consent and don’t be a bystander.
"This campaign is building upon the positive measures that are already being taken by our members,"
said Renae Brown, campaign manager at the Association Of Independent Festivals (AIF). "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 & 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 onsite are properly trained, and that UK festivals continue to provide the safest, securest and most enjoyable environment for their customers.”
The full list of festivals participating in the blackout are: 2000trees, Always the Sun, Ampthill Festival, ArcTanGent, Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, Bestival, Bluedot, Boomtown Fair, Electric Fields, End of the Road, Eisteddfod, Festival No. 6, Field Day, The Fling, Hanwell Hootie, Heb Celt Fest, Kendal Calling, Nozstock The Hidden Valley, Pangaea, Parklife, Rewind, Secret Garden Party, Standon Calling, Strawberries & Creem, Tramlines, Truck, The Vicars Picnic and Y-Not Festival.
More than 60 AIF members have signed a Charter of Best Practice committing to uphold best practice through a series of measures including a zero tolerance policy towards any form of sexual harassment at their event, 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 and taking a victim-led approach to sexual assault incidents.
Bestival and AIF co-founder Rob Da Bank said: "I'm fully behind this campaign, both as a festival promoter and as the co-founder of AIF which represents over 60 of the UK’s best independent festivals. All share our concerns and aims for our events to be as safe as possible.”
According to Rape Crisis England & Wales, more than half a million adults are sexually assaulted in England and Wales each year. Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped. Only 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report it to the police.
Rebecca Hitchen, operations Coordinator at Rape Crisis South London, Rape & Sexual Abuse Support Centre, said: "We at Rape Crisis welcome this important new campaign from the Association of Independent Festivals. It's vital that as much as possible is done to ensure festivals can be safe spaces, free from sexual violence.
"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 festival-goers not to be bystanders when they witness assaults are strong and crucial messages."
- See Monday's (May 8) Music Week for additional interviews with AIF's Renae Brown and Secret Garden Party's Freddie Fellowes.