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More than 100 festivals join campaign against sexual violence

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ore than 100 UK festivals have joined a campaign committed to challenging sexual violence at the music events.

The Association of Independent Festivals’ (AIF) Safer Spaces At Festivals campaign, in its 2022 relaunch, has taken a survivor-led approach to begin redressing the issue.

A total of 103 festival organisers, including Boomtown Fair, Boardmasters and Reading and Leeds, have signed AIF’s charter this year.

Parklife, El Dorado, Kendal Calling, Latitude and Shambala have also committed to the initiative, which originally launched in 2017.

Safe Gigs for Women (SGFW), was among charities and organisations that advised the festivals with their bystander intervention procedure.

SGFW trustee Melinda Kelly said: “We have been trying to change the culture at live music events to make any kind of sexual violence – from catcalling and up-skirting to physical assault – unacceptable, since we were founded in 2015.

“Bystander intervention and empowerment can be used anywhere, not just in live music, and it is so important that people have those skills to intervene safely.

“The reinforcement of that message to many thousands of people this summer is huge progress.”

The “5 Ds” messaging, that instructs witnesses of sexual harassment to Direct, Delegate, Distract, Document and Delay, is reflected in AIF’s Charter.

Rape Crisis England And Wales, Good Night Out, Girls Against and UN Women UK also provided input in the campaign.

The charter is fortified by a clear policy on how to report incidents onsite and after the event.

Media and communications officer at Rape Crisis England and Wales Kelly Bennaton said that the charity is “encouraged to see the commitment and consideration” from festival boards to make their events “safe places” – especially for women and girls.

She added: “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.”

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