UK festivals sign charter to tackle sexual violence at events

Virgin Radio

16 May 2022, 10:22

A festival crowd

Credit: Getty

More than 100 festivals, including Latitude, Reading & Leeds, Boardmasters and Parklife, have committed to The Association of Independent Festivals’ (AIF) Safer Spaces At Festivals campaign, which is aimed at tackling sexual violence at festivals.

The charter was first created five years ago, and has been relaunched today (16th May) to address the issue in 2022 and beyond.

The update has included input and guidance from experts at Rape Crisis England And Wales, Good Night Out, Safe Gigs For Women, Girls Against and UN Women. 

The Safer Spaces campaign aims to raise greater awareness about sexual violence at festivals, and to commit to taking a survivor-led approach to tackling sexual violence, as well as spreading key messages about consent and bystander intervention.

The charter sees event organisers 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. 

Events that have signed up promise to ensure that “all allegations of sexual harassment, assault and violence will be taken seriously, acted upon promptly and investigated.” 

AIF Membership & Operations Coordinator Phoebe Rodwell said: “The original Safer Spaces campaign has had a positive impact across festivals for music fans and festival staff alike. Festivals are microcosms of society and sexual violence is a problem that persists in our society." 

She continued: “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.”

Media & Communications Officer at Rape Crisis England and Wales Kelly Bennaton added:  “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. We’re pleased to have worked with AIF on developing this charter, and hope that the wider festival industry will follow its lead.”

You can read about Safer Spaces here.