More than 100 music festivals, including Leeds, Reading and Latitude, have signed up to a campaign aimed at tackling sexual violence.
After two years of postponements, curtailments and cancellations, hopes are high that the summer of 2022 will be a fun and abundant one for festival-goers.
Ahead of that, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has updated a charter of best practice that it first launched in 2017.
A total of 103 festivals have committed to the relaunched charter, also including the National Eisteddfod of Wales, Boardmasters on the Cornish coast and Shambala on a “secret country estate” in Northamptonshire.
One of the key promises is that “all allegations of sexual harassment, assault and violence will be taken seriously, acted upon promptly and investigated”.
The Safer Spaces charter has been updated with guidance and input from organisations including Rape Crisis England and Wales. Its communications officer, Kelly Bennaton, said it was encouraging to see the commitment of festival organisers.
“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.”
Bennaton said she hoped the wider festival industry would follow the lead of the AIF.
According to Rape Crisis England and Wales, one in five women have been raped or sexually assaulted as an adult with the highest ever number of rapes recorded in 2021. The scale of the crisis is bigger because five in six women who are raped do not report it to police.
The charter also cites a YouGov poll from 2018 which reported that one in five festival-goers had experienced sexual assault or harassment at a UK festival.
The campaign will highlight the five “D’s” of bystander intervention – direct, delegate, distract, document and delay.
Phoebe Rodwell, the AIF’s membership and operations coordinator, said understanding about how to tackle sexual violence was evolving all the time. “That’s why it’s important that we renew the Safer Spaces campaign in 2022 with up-to-date messaging, resources and practices, to prevent sexual violence and promote a survivor-led approach, helping festival organisers to fulfil their duty of care at events.”