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22% of UK festivalgoers have experienced sexual assault or harassment, new study shows

That equates to one in five festival attendees in the country…

A new survey has reported that 22% of UK festivalgoers, which equates to one in five festival attendees, have experienced sexual harassment or assault.

The YouGov survey, commissioned by the UK’s Press Association, indicates that 30% of women, and 43% of women under age 40, have encountered “unwanted sexual behaviour” at festivals. Respondents to the survey indicated that the most common behaviours reported were “unwelcome and forceful dancing and sexualised verbal harassment,” according to the Press Association. 

According to the survey, which included a sample size of 1,188 people who had attended a music festival, only two per cent of attendees who experienced assault or harassment at a festival reported it to the police, while one per cent of women reported their encounters with unwanted sexual behaviour to festival staff members. Of the men surveyed, 19% of the respondents reported incidents to festival staff. 

Of the women who suffered sexual assault at a festival, 11% said they experienced it while conscious, while 4 per cent of women said it occurred while unconscious or asleep. 70% of those who experienced sexual assault or harassment at a festival indicated that the perpetrator was a stranger.

Paul Reed, the chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals, told The Guardian that festivals “have a duty to make their events as safe and secure and enjoyable” as possible. He also encouraged festivalgoers to report incidents if they witnessed them or experienced them directly.

“If people don’t intervene, then this behaviour becomes normalised,” he told The Guardian. “People shouldn’t feel that they need to tolerate [at festivals] the type of behaviour that they wouldn’t tolerate in the street.” 

“We have struggled to find anyone with any definite statistics on this before now,” added Tracey Wise, founder of Safe Gigs For Women. “It gives us something to show to festival organisers so we can say you need to take this on board.”

Last year, DJ Mag teamed up with the Association For Electronic Music (AFEM) and its members and others to initiate a helpline for people to report sexual harassment in the dance music industry.

This past February, five women in the dance music community shared their stories about sexual harassment and sexual abuse in the industry with DJ Mag.

Photo Credit: Eva Rinaldi Photography via Flickr. Creative Commons license.