UK festivals including Reading & Leeds sign charter to tackle sexual violence at events

More than 100 festivals have signed the updated charter from the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF)

More than 100 UK festivals, including Reading & Leeds and Latitude, have signed a charter pledging to tackle sexual violence at their events.

A charter first drawn up by the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) in 2017 has been updated for this year as the country prepares for its first uninterrupted summer of live music and events in three years.

The charter, titled Safer Spaces, sees events promise that “all allegations of sexual harassment, assault and violence will be taken seriously, acted upon promptly and investigated,” and among the 103 signees are Cornish festival Boardmasters, Northamptonshire’s Shambala and more.

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Kelly Bennaton of Rape Crisis England and Wales said: “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.

“They also deserve to know that festivals are taking a proactive approach in preventing sexual assault, and that abusive behaviour will not be tolerated.”

AIF’s Phoebe Rodwell added: “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.”

Find out more about Safer Spaces here.

Latitude
Crowds at Latitude Festival 2021. Credit: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images.

In 2018, research showed that two thirds of women were worried about sexual harassment at music festivals, while the following year a woman was subjected to a “serious sexual assault” at Latitude Festival.

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Meanwhile, reports of sexual assaults taking place in London’s clubs, bars, pubs and music venues rose were at their highest in six years in 2021, according to an investigative report published at the start of the year.

According to information obtained by Time Out from the Metropolitan Police, 207 allegations of sexual assault and 29 reports of rape were recorded in London nightlife establishments between January 1 and October 31 of last year.

For help, advice or more information regarding sexual harassment, assault and rape in the UK, visit the Rape Crisis charity website. In the US, visit RAINN.

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