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Irish festivals sign up to campaign aimed at tackling sexual violence

Electric Picnic is among the festivals signed up to the charter.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

A NUMBER OF Irish music festivals have signed up to a campaign aimed at tackling sexual violence ahead of Europe’s festival season.

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) first launched its charter of best practice in 2017 to tackle sexual violence, harassment and assault at festivals.

The charter was relaunched earlier this month and more than 100 festivals across the UK and Ireland, including Electric Picnic, have signed up. Participating festivals will promote the principle of consent on site and will provide training for staff and volunteers on how to monitor and deal with incidents of sexual assault and harassment.

The AIF said by signing up to the campaign festival organisers are “reiterating their commitment to delivering a safe environment for audiences, performers, and workforce, and to taking a survivor-led approach underpinned by policies, procedures, and training”.

The charter states that all allegations of sexual harassment, assault and violence will be taken seriously, acted upon promptly and investigated.

“This is supplemented by a commitment to clear, robust reporting and disclosure procedures, including how to report incidents onsite and post event,” the AIF said.

A spokesperson for MCD said all festivals organised by MCD are signed up to the charter – this includes Electric Picnic and Longitude. Body & Soul has also signed up to the charter.

“We have in the past worked with the Rape Crisis Centre at Body & Soul, but do feel this is a great initiative that weaves festivals across the UK and Europe with one cohesive message, strategy and resources,” a spokesperson for the festival, which will take place at Ballinlough Castle in Co Westmeath next month, told The Journal.

A full list of the festivals signed up to Safer Spaces can be found here.

Festivals signed up to the charter will include relevant guidance in their policies as well as connections to local services. The campaign will also feature advice for festival-goers on how to be an ‘active bystander’, including the ’5 D’s'; - Direct, Delegate, Distract, Document and Delay.

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The AIF said participating festivals will actively promote the principle of consent regarding sexual activity onsite at events, defining consent as “someone engaging in sexual activity if they agree by choice, and they have the freedom and capacity to make that choice” and reiterating that consent can be revoked at any time.

Participating festivals are also committing to assessing their training needs and provide training for staff and volunteers on both how to proactively monitor for and deal with incidents of sexual assault and harassment.

“Festivals are microcosms of society and sexual violence is a problem that persists in our society,” commented AIF membership and operations coordinator Phoebe Rodwell.

“Our understanding and approaches to tackling the issue are 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.”

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