Sweden’s Bråvalla music festival has been canceled for 2018 after police received four reports of rape and 23 reports of sexual assault at this year’s event.
Sadly, the specter of sexual assault is becoming increasingly visible at music festivals. Being the Swedish festival the last adding to a list of festivals marked by misconduct behavior by festival goers.
Bråvalla is calling it quits after this outrageous reports
The weekend, thousands of music lovers headed to Sweden’s biggest music festival, Bråvalla, to watch headliners System of a Down, Linkin Park, Alesso, and The Killers. But police said the festival was marred by 4 rape reports and 23 sexual assault cases. Which lead organizers to call it quits for next year’s festival.
“I’ve had it, violence kills the festival experience and the love for music, and — first and foremost: People are getting hurt. One is one too much!” said Folkert Koopmans, founder, and CEO of FKP Scorpio, the German production company that runs Bråvalla.
Bråvalla’s statement said the decision to cancel the 2018 event wasn’t about confining the problem to festivals or an inability to handle it; rather, it’s “about making a clear statement.”
“There are no words for how incredibly sad we are about this, and we want to condemn it in the most serious terms. This is not f*****g okay. We do not accept this at our festival,” festival organizers said in the statement. The music festival said it had attempted to prevent rapes and sexual abuses but “some men — because we are talking about men — apparently can’t behave. It’s a shame.”
Bråvalla started in 2013 and draws about 40,000 people over the course of a weekend. The festival has previously seen performances by Kanye West, Robbie Williams, and Iron Maiden.
The organizers did not say if or when the festival will return, nor if reported financial losses from last year’s event had anything to do with the decision. Finally, they urged people to “take care of each other, choke hatred and violence and let the music win.”
Rape at music festivals is nothing new
In 2016, five rapes and 12 sexual assault cases were reported at the festival. Which led Mumford and Sons, the headliner of last year’s festival, to boycott it. A statement posted on their website expressed concern over the reports and demand the festival to act to prevent it.
It read, “We won’t play at this festival again until we’ve had assurances from the police and organizers that they’re doing something to combat what appears to be a disgustingly high rate of reported sexual violence.”
At another Swedish music festival held the same weekend last year, Putte i Parken in Karlstad, women attested to 32 instances of sexual assault, mostly in the form of groping by men.
There’s also the We Are STHLM young people’s festival in the Swedish capital, which also faced sexual assault allegations in 2014 and 2015.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven described last year’s attacks on women as “totally unacceptable” and said laws on sexual assault would be tightened in the country after other festivals experienced similar problems.
Sexual assault at music festivals isn’t just a Swedish problem, though. And people and activists are making statements about it.
An online “blackout” was made to 28 British music festivals last May. Hackers replaced their websites for 24 hours with the message #saferspacesatfestivals to support a campaign raising awareness of the issue.
Other festivals have taken more concrete actions to prevent these incidents. The Glastonbury Festival in the U.K. opened a space exclusively for people who self-identify as women in 2016.
“The producers of The Sisterhood believe that women-only spaces are necessary in a world that is still run by and designed to benefit mainly men,” organizers said at the time.
What about free man festivals?
Emma Knyckare, a Swedish comedy performer and radio presenter, floated the idea in a tweet at the weekend.
“What do you think about putting together a really cool festival where only non-men are welcome, that we’ll run until ALL men have learned how to behave themselves?” she wrote.
Though some weren’t thrilled with the idea, others started to respond with words of support. Medical workers, PR people, project managers, and musicians got in touch to offer their services, and soon, enough people had registered interest for the comedian to start thinking seriously about making the festival happen.
A day after her initial tweet, Knyckare confirmed that plans were in place for an event in 2018.
“Sweden’s first man-free rock festival will see the light next summer,” she said.
“In the coming days I’ll bring together a solid group of talented organizers and project leaders to form the festival organizers, then you’ll hear from everyone again when it’s time to move forward.”
The man-free festival idea has been previously applied. The women-only Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival ran annually from 1976 but closed down in 2015 following controversy over its treatment of transgender artists.