Ahead of festival season a new charter outlining best practice and sexual violence prevention is being signed
Over the last couple of years, the festival scene has been dogged with cancellations, postponements and restrictions. It’s hoped that summer 2022 will see the return of many events, and with this, there is a focus on festival-goers having a safe experience.
The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has updated and relaunched The Safer Spaces charter, complete with best practices and a key promise that “all allegations of sexual harassment, assault and violence will be taken seriously, acted upon promptly and investigated”.
The charter was updated with guidance and support from organisations such as Rape Crisis England and Wales. So far, over 100 festivals have signed the charter, including big names like Leeds, Reading and Latitude.
Speaking to The Guardian, communications officer at AIF, Kelly Bennaton, expressed how encouraging it is to see festival organisers making this commitment.
“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.”
It’s hoped that the wider festival industry will follow suit by signing the charter. In 2021, the highest ever number of rapes was recorded and, of course, this doesn’t tell the full story as many rapes are unreported. The charter also notes statistics from a 2018 YouGov poll reporting that one in five festival attendees experienced sexual assault or harassment at a UK festival.
AIF’s membership and operations coordinator, Phoebe Rodwell, highlighted the fact that our understanding of how to tackle this kind of violence is constantly evolving, so it was important to update the charter with up-to-date messaging, resources and practices to help prevent sexual violence from happening. The updated charter and festival commitment takes a positive step forward in doing exactly this.
If you’ve been affected by sexual violence, know that you’re not alone. In the video below, counsellor Kitt Murphy (MBACP, CSB) discusses the impact of sexual abuse and how counselling can help.
Learn more about seeking help and connect with a therapist on Counselling Directory.