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One out of six girls harassment victim at a festival

© Belga
© Belga

One out of six girls affirms to have been subjected to harassment of some sort at a festival, reveals Thursday the NGO Plan International Belgium survey. “It is urgent to act,’’ it pleads. In June, Plan International Belgium interviewed 604 youth (334 girls and 270 boys) aged from 16 to 24, who had participated in at least one music festival in the last three years. Among them, 87 indicated to have been a victim of sexual harassment during a festival. “Two thirds of these victims are female,” indicates Jonathan Moskovic, Advocacy Officer.

If many victims called friends, or defied their aggressor, one out of five declares to have done nothing. Furthermore, almost 40% of the witnesses recognize having simply moved away.

The facts notably concerned unwanted fondling, body-rubbing, drunken abuse, sexist insults, etc. Large-scale festivals, such as Rock Werchter or Tomorrowland, register “logically” – seeing they attract the largest crowds – the highest number of victims and witnesses, “but that does not necessarily mean that they are the riskiest ones for girls,” tempers the NGO.

During 11 festivals, of all kinds, that is Dance-D Vision, Dour Festival, Esperanzah!, Laundry Day, Pukkelpop, Qontinent, Reggae Geel, Rock Werchter, La Fête des Solidarités, Sunrise and WeCanDance, “at least 10% of the girls declare to have been a victim of at least one type of sexual harassment.”

However, less than 5% of the girls have reported harassment during Les Ardentes, Boomtown, the Brussels Summer Festival, CactusFestival, Couleur Café, Dranouter, Graspop, Lasemo and Ronquières Festival.

“But we must be careful with these figures,” for the sample is limited, in particular for the small festivals, insists Jonathan Moskovic. “Above all, our survey proves that no festival is spared, and that the organizers must act quickly. Festivals must be festive for everybody.”

Among the avenues proposed by Plan is that of advertising an emergency number specific to the festival. The NGO will gather solutions from young people this summer, in the framework of its #SAFEstival campaign. “Some festival organizers, such as Esperanzah!, have already begun to work on this problem.”

Sarah Johansson
The Brussels Times