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Campaign aims to make festivals safer for all

Words by Smiley Team

With banging tunes, zen retreats and scrumptious food, festivals make a great escape from the daily grind. To ensure they remain a safe space for all, over 100 festivals have stepped up their efforts to tackle sexual harassment, violence and assault this season.

Boomtown Fair, Boardmasters, Reading & Leeds, Bluedot, Parklife and Shambala are among 103 UK festivals which have joined the Safer Spaces campaign, offering advice and guidance to festival organisers on how to keep the good vibes vibing.

Phoebe Rodwell of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), which organised the campaign, has seen an improvement in festival safety since their initial launch in 2017. 

“The original Safer Spaces campaign has had a positive impact across festivals for music fans and festival staff alike,” she said.

In collaboration with anti-harassment organisations, AIF has drawn up a Charter of Best Practices for festivals. It includes policies to crack down on sexual harassment, procedures to deal with complaints and training for staff.

[Read about other positive initiatives helping to make society a safer, fairer and more harmonious place for all]

They also emphasise the importance of consent in sexual interactions, which they define as “someone engaging in sexual activity if they agree by choice, and they have the freedom and capacity to make that choice”, which they reiterate can be revoked at any time.

“Festivals are microcosms of society and sexual violence is a problem that persists in our society. Our understanding and approaches to tackling the issue are evolving all the time,” Phoebe explained.

“That’s why it’s important that we renew the Safer Spaces campaign in 2022 with up-to-date messaging, resources and practices, to prevent sexual violence and promote a survivor-led approach, helping festival organisers to fulfil their duty of care at events.”

From a survey conducted in 2019, the AIF found that 98.7% of respondents said they had not experienced sexual assault or harassment at a festival that year. However, statistics suggest that sexual assault is massively underreported with five in six women not going to the police about this issue, according to the charity Rape Crisis.

Inspired to act?

DONATE: To support work tackling sexual harassment in England and Wales, donate to Rape Crisis.

VOLUNTEER: Join the superstars working to support women and girls who have faced sexual assault. Volunteer for Rape Crisis.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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