Over 100 festivals have signed up to the Safer Spaces campaign (Picture: PA/Shutterstock)

Festivals are spaces to have fun, feel completely free and get lost in the music. 

Or at least, they should be. 

Unfortunately, sexual violence and harassment are all too common reality at festivals.

In 2018, a YouGov survey found that one in five festival-goers had experienced sexual assault or harassment at a UK festival. 

This mirrors research from the British Academy, which found that ​​about a third of women say they had experienced sexual harassment at a festival. 

Meanwhile, 8% had been sexually assaulted at a festival within the previous 12 months, compared to 1% of men. 

It’s clear that something needs to be done to make sure everyone has a good time, free from harassment. 

The Association of Independent Festivals is trying to do just that, with their Safer Spaces At Festivals Campaign that has just been relaunched. 

Today, we are launching an updated version of our Safer Spaces at Festivals campaign, which is aimed at tackling sexual violence at festivals.

Over 100 festivals have signed the Charter of Best Practice.

Read more here: https://t.co/3pl1BdQJoH pic.twitter.com/V37w6mBRYQ

— AIF (@AIF_UK) May 16, 2022

As of today, 103 UK festivals have committed to the pledge, including Boomtown Fair, Boardmasters, Reading & Leeds, Bluedot, Parklife and Shambala. 

They have committed to an updated charter of best practices that has been developed with input and guidance from experts at Rape Crisis England And Wales, Good Night Out, Safe Gigs For Women, Girls Against and UN Women.  

The focus is on survivors, and creating a safe environment for audiences, performers, and workers. 

AIF Membership & Operations Coordinator Phoebe Rodwell said: ‘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.’   

Festival goers deserve to feel safe (Picture: Getty Images)

She continued: ‘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.’

The charter stipulates that all allegations of sexual harassment, assault and violence be taken seriously, meaning there is a commitment to investigating and an easy route for reporting.

The latter is incredibly important given that, according to research from Rape Crisis, five in six women who are raped do not report it to Police. The same is true for four in five men. 

More: Sexual Violence

‘Festival goers deserve to know that if they report sexual assault they will be listened to and believed, and that those working on site are equipped to handle all reports with knowledge and empathy,’ said Kelly Bennaton, media and communications officer at Rape Crisis England and Wales. 

She continued: ‘They also deserve to know that festivals are taking a proactive approach in preventing sexual assault, and that abusive behaviour will not be tolerated. We’re pleased to have worked with AIF on developing this charter, and hope that the wider festival industry will follow its lead.’

Danielle Vincent, senior associate of the abuse team at Hugh James Solicitors tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Sadly, sexual, and physical assaults against individuals at festivals are not uncommon.  

‘Consent is ongoing, and this must be prevalent with any engagement with another during sexual activity. An individual must have the capacity to consent. consent can be verbal or nonverbal.  

‘It is completely wrong to think if you were intoxicated or perhaps wearing certain clothing, that their allegations will not be believed. This thought process must be squashed. There are no grounds or justifications that allow another to assault you.

‘Guilt, upset and shame are all emotions sadly some assault survivors can suffer which prevent disclosure and reporting and much awareness needs to be raised about this, that there is no blame to the assault survivor.’

Danielle also suggests that sexual assault training be given to all staff or designated safeguarding officers on-site during the festival.

The AIF’s charter will also include tips from Right to Be for being an active bystander, which includes the ‘5 D’s’: Direct, Delegate, Distract, Document and Delay.  

As part of the commitment, festivals will share key messaging – including education on the principles of consent – on social media and through signs across the festival site. 

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