100+ UK Festivals Commit to Battling Sexual Violence at Events

festival sexual violence
  • Save

festival sexual violence
  • Save
Photo Credit: James Genchi

Over 100 festivals across the UK have committed to AIF’s Safer Spaces campaign to combat sexual violence at festivals. Initially launched in 2017, the relaunched platform includes a new awareness and education program.

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has relaunched its Safer Spaces at Festivals campaign, initially launched in 2017. Today, the initiative sees 103 festivals across the UK commit to an updated charter of best practices developed with guidance from Rape Crisis England and Wales, Good Night Out, Safe Gigs For Women, Girls Against, and UN Women.

With a commitment to transparent and robust reporting and disclosure procedures, the charter states that all assault, sexual harassment, or violence allegations be promptly acted upon and investigated. The documentation includes methods for reporting incidents both on-site and post-event.

Features of the campaign include advice on being an active bystander, including the ‘5 Ds’ of Bystander Intervention (Direct, Delegate, Distract, Document, and Delay) devised by Right To Be. Festival policies will include health guidance relevant to a given incident and connections to local services.

Festivals will also actively promote consent regarding sexual activity at events, defining consent as “someone engaging in sexual activity if they agree by choice, and they have the freedom and capacity to make that choice.” Documents reiterate that one may revoke consent at any time.

A resource hub linking all partner organizations is in development, with up-to-date guidance and advice and best practice examples of festivals in action. Participating festivals will share important messages across social media this summer while on-site at events. 

Phoebe Rodwell, AIF Membership and Operations Coordinator, said, “The original Safer Spaces campaign has had a positive impact across festivals for music fans and festival staff alike. 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. 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 organizers to fulfill their duty of care at events.”

Kelly Bennaton, Media and Communications Officer at Rape Crisis England, adds, “We’re encouraged to see the commitment and consideration from festival organizers in making their events safe places for women and girls. The AIF Safer Spaces Charter acknowledges the importance of dedicated training, awareness raising, and the provision of specialist support services for survivors.” 

She continues, “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 behavior 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.”