WHAT IS FFS?

FFS, or Friendly Festivals in Scotland is a campaign to get all Scottish festivals to display zero tolerance anti sexual violence policies on their websites, as a commitment to the safety of people attending. Policies like this are a first step to addressing the fact that 1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault or harassment at a music festival. Nearly half of female festival goers (43%) under 40 say they have faced unwanted sexual behaviour at a music festival.

FFS have compiled a dataset showing which music festivals in Scotland display an anti-sexual harassment & violence policy on their website. You can view the data set here.




 

WHAT IS THE AIM OF FFS?

FFS wants to open a dialogue with festivals in Scotland about the issue of sexual assault and misconduct in our festival spaces. There are currently only 2 out of the 60 Festivals we found in Scotland displaying a formal policy and a zero tolerance attitude against sexual violence on their website. 


HOW DID WE PULL THIS DATASET TOGETHER?

In January 2022,  Popgirlz Scotland, Fanny Riot and POWA Scotland came together to conduct some research on the Scottish Festival scene. By observing whether festivals displayed a sexual misconduct or anti sexual harassment and violence policy on their website; including in their terms and conditions, they built a picture of the gaps glaringly left by Festival organisers in 2022.


WHAT IS THE PROCESS OF FFS

Three groups came together to discuss the need for more formalised commitment from music festivals to the prevention of sexual assault and sexual harassment. We then researched how many music festivals displayed policy to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault on their websites. Before publishing our dataset, we contacted each music festival in Scotland and opened dialogue with employees of the festivals in order to improve policies, and discuss the landscape and the need for preventions of sexual harassment and assault at music festivals. We welcome this dialogue to continue as we have now published our dataset.

 

WHAT IS SEXUAL MISCONDUCT?

Sexual misconduct covers a broad range of inappropriate & unwanted behaviour. From the most severe forms of sexual violence including rape and sexual assault, it extends to unwanted touching, stalking, abusive or degrading remarks and across the vast range of inappropriate behaviour in between. This is including, but not limited to; sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, voyeurisim, groping, sexualised comments, coercing or soliciting sexual favours in exchange for professional opportunities, and any other conduct of a sexual nature that is non consensual or has the purpose or effect of threatening, intimidating, undermining, humiliating, or coercing a person.

The common thread is the disregard of informed consent.

Consent is always required and cannot be assumed regardless of circumstance. 


Definition of sexual misconduct taken from UK parliament's webpage 2.3
https://www.parliament.uk/globalassets/documents/conduct-in-parliament/sexual-misconduct-policy2.pdf



 

DOES SEXUAL VIOLENCE & MISCONDUCT HAPPEN AT MUSIC FESTIVALS? YES. 

A YouGov poll in 2018 found that nearly half (43 per cent) of female festival goers under 40 have experienced sexual harassment at a festival event.  A UK-wide study at Durham University recorded similar numbers, estimating that the true number of sexual assaults at festivals could be close to 250,000 a year. A recent UN initiative to make safer public spaces for women found 7 in 10 women had been sexually harassed this year alone (Safe Spaces Now).


 

WHY DO SO FEW FESTIVALS IN SCOTLAND DISPLAY ANTI SEXUAL VIOLENCE POLICY?

While all festivals must follow UK law, there is no current regulatory UK music industry-specific body or umbrella organisation with the authority to regulate festival policy against specifically sexual violence.

Friendly Fests Scotland want to change that. We believe it is vital to ensure that music festivals include a sexual misconduct policy on their website as part of their obligation to protect the wellbeing of everyone attending.

We welcome dialogue with music festivals as to why this may be, and how we might help. Please email us at info@friendlyfests.com


 

WHY SHOULD FESTIVALS HAVE A SEXUAL VIOLENCE POLICY?

Many festivals have good intentions and have good signposting to victim support organisations, as well as trained volunteers on site to help victims, and support them to report to police. However, a victim-led approach of reporting crimes of sexual assault AFTER they happen is not enough. Festivals should display a policy and create formal safeguarding in order to PREVENT assaults and incidents of harassment BEFORE THEY HAPPEN.

 

Prevention is now the world standard for tackling gender based violence. The most recent published findings from the Scottish Government show that a prevention based approach is most effective at improving attitudes towards victims, and preventing harm to women & girls. 

 

FFS believe it is vital to ensure that music festivals include a sexual misconduct policy on their website as part of their obligation to protect the wellbeing of people attending.

 

A lack of formal approach to the prevention of sexual assault may be a contributing reason to why almost 43% women could be experiencing sexual harassment at music festivals.
 

Why not take this simple first step of displaying a simple policy to address an issue which should have no place in the Music Industry?
 



 

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR A MUSIC FESTIVAL TO DISPLAY A SEXUAL VIOLENCE POLICY?

A sexual violence policy clarifies the festivals' attitude and actions against this issue, and shows that you are a forward thinking, modern and socially responsible organisation who values the safety of your audience. By displaying a Zero Tolerance sexual violence policy you show that your festival is:

 

  • creating a culture where you recognise that sexual misconduct is criminal behaviour.

  • creating insurance for your music festival by clearly acknowledging that all criminal behaviour is not tolerated at your event. 

  • You are improving the safety of all attendees.

  • You encourage more female customers, artists, staff and volunteers to the festival

  • You take better care of those who are attending this summer.



HOW DOES SEXUAL ASSUALT & MISCONDUCT AFFECT ARTISTS, VOLUNTEERS, AND FESTIVAL STAFF?

Sexual violence has a devastating effect on an individual's physical and mental health. It can affect their security, sense of safety, ability to work or perform well. The Impact cannot be predicted and varies with every individual. Emotional and physical impact can include anxiety and long-term depression, sleep disorders, lowered self-esteem and a range of physical impairments.

 

The impact on the wider music community is devastating. Where studies estimate 250,000 assaults happening in festivals each year, organisers should do more to prevent these assaults from happening again this summer.



WHY ARE WE HIGHLIGHTING THE ISSUE?

FFS highlights the need for a more formal approach to creating a music industry culture which prevents abuse. Prevention will support the music industry’s recovery after the Coronavirus pandemic with safety, diversity, and inclusion at its heart. 

 

By highlighting the need for visible anti sexual assault policies, and the need for more active safeguarding and prevention of abuse at music festivals we are speaking out on behalf of not just women & girls, but for genderfluid people & men who also experience this unnecessary trauma.

 

Whether a music festival is large or small, we must all work together to prevent assaults and harassment at music festivals in 2022 and beyond. If our music scene continues with the threat of harassment or sexual violence, are music lovers willing to accept that? What is the cost of a lack of safety to our staff, audience members and musicians?

 

We welcome the input and feedback of festival organisers and representatives in order to:

  • discuss the experience of these issues from the festival organiser’s point of view and offer solutions

  • Offer advice on how to write and implement their policy

  • discuss changes needed and how to rebuild the music industry safely

  • create a timeline of actions together

  • demonstrate why this campaign is vital to the survival of the festival industry.



 

Please get in touch with us if you’d like to provide us with this feedback and discuss solutions for a safer music scene. If you would like to update us with the policy displayed on your company’s website, email us at: info@friendlyfests.com

If you, or someone you know has been affected by rape, sexual assault or sexual harassment you can find support via the following resources:

 

https://www.gov.scot/publications/information-help-rape-sexual-assault/documents/

 

https://www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk



 

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