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Two-thirds of women are worried about sexual harassment at festivals

Durham University has published a new study on safety concerns at festivals

  • Patrick Hinton
  • 20 August 2018
Two-thirds of women are worried about sexual harassment at festivals

While festival season is at its peak and many people are enjoying the highs of the summer partying period, a new study from Durham University has highlighted a dark aspect to the UK festival scene.

A survey found that 70 per cent of women are concerned about sexual assault at festivals and 69 per cent of women are concerned about sexual harassment.

30 per cent of women said they had been sexually harassed and 10 per cent said they had been sexually assaulted while attending festivals in the UK.

Mel Kelly of Safe Gigs for Women, an initiative aiming to create a safer environment for women at gigs, said: “These figures are shocking but not surprising as this is just more evidence that women fear for their safety at live music festivals. This fits anecdotally with what we hear every day. Hopefully organisers hear this and respond appropriately.”

The numbers for men were significantly lower, with 5 per cent experiencing harassment and 1 per cent affected by sexual assault. 53 per cent and 56 per cent of men said they were worried about sexual harassment and sexual assault respectively.

The study was conducted by Durham University’s law school and sociology department, drawing 258 responses so far. It is investigating how safe people feel at British festivals, looking into concerns about other criminal activity such as theft and physical violence. 64 per cent of people said they were worried about theft and 53 per cent feel concerned about the suffering physical violence.

Two-thirds of people surveyed have been women and over half have been aged 30 and above.

The study follows a recent YouGov poll which found one in five festival goers experience sexual harassment or assault.

The Guardian spoke to women who had experienced sexual harassment and assault at UK festivals.

One woman who was working the bar was grabbed after turning down flirtatious advances and the request of a kiss from a man she was serving.

She said: “He wouldn’t leave even after he’d been served and was like: ‘Oh you’re so beautiful can I kiss your hand?’ I said no and then started to turn away and then he grabbed me from across the bar and tried to kiss me. I’m really sad that most of my female co-workers at festivals have experienced something similar to this."

Another woman was assaulted at a major UK festival while standing with her boyfriend and another male friend.

She said: “There were two guys behind us and one of them looked pretty far gone and was dancing pretty close behind me. I thought nothing of it and … Then he reached around my front, grabbed my crotch and pulled me towards him.

“I freaked out and froze, but managed to say to my friend: ‘Get me away from him.’ He didn’t see what had happened but knew something was wrong and got us away. As I got further away I got angry and wished I’d punched the guy in the face. I felt violated and the worst part was that I knew there was absolutely no point in reporting it – there were thousands of people in that field and there’d be no chance of ever picking him out.”

Some steps are being made to combat the issue. This year Festival Republic, promoter of Reading and Leeds festivals which take place this coming weekend, is partnering with Safe Gigs for Women to work towards preventing sexual assault and harassment. Earlier this summer Kendal Calling and Latitude also had sexual assault help centres onsite.

Last week, Jackmaster admitted to sexual harassment at Bristol festival Love Saves The Day.

[Via: The Guardian]

Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Staff Writer, follow him on Twitter

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