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Sweden to host ‘man-free’ rock festival next year

festival women.jpg

Sweden is to host a “man-free” rock festival next year, after a series of sexual assaults prompted the cancellation of the country’s largest music event.

Bråvalla, which touts itself as “the biggest music festival in Sweden”, will not take place in 2018, after reports of four rapes and 23 sexual assaults on-site.

“Words cannot describe how incredibly sad we are about this, and we most seriously regret and condemn this,” festival organisers said in a statement. 

“Certain men... apparently cannot behave. It's a shame.”

Bravalla,

Crowds at Bravalla in years gone by

The development prompted Swedish radio personality and comedian Emma Knyckare (below) to suggest the idea of a festival enitirely without men.

 “What do you think about putting together a really cool festival where only non-men are welcome, that we’ll run until ALL men have learned how to behave themselves?” she wrote on Twitter.

The novel idea struck a chord and quickly gained traction with Knyckare’s 25,000 followers. A day later, she confirmed the all-women event was indeed going ahead.

A post shared by Här Är Jag! (@knyckare) on

“Sweden's first man-free rock festival will see the light next summer,” Knyckare wrote on Instagram, in a post that’s drawn over 7,000 likes at the time of writing.

“In the coming days I'll bring together a solid group of talented organisers and project leaders to form the festival organisers, then you'll hear from everyone again when it's time to move forward.”


Read more: Myth and rape – will we ever stamp out victim-blaming in assault?


Knyckare denied the premise of the festival was biased, telling  Sweden's Aftonbladet tabloid: “Since it seems to be OK to discriminate against women all the time, maybe it's OK to shut out men for three days? I would not exactly call it an abuse not to come to the festival.”

Mumford & Sons boycotted

Mumford & Sons boycotted Bråvalla in 2016 over multiple reports of sexual assault

Police said they were investigating a number of allegations of rape and sexual assault at Bråvalla, held in the city of Norrkoping, in the wake of last weekend’s four-day festival. It follows similar reports at last year's event.

British band Mumford & Sons announced a boycott of the festival in the wake of reports of five rapes and 12 instances of sexual assault when they headlined there in 2016.


Read more: “Don’t slam the women-only zone at Glastonbury – it can only be a good thing”


“Festivals are a celebration of music and people, a place to let go and feel safe doing so. We're gutted by these hideous reports,” the band wrote on Facebook. They vowed not to perform at Bråvalla until they were assured that police and organisers were actively working to control the prevalence of assaults.

Sweden’s prime minister has condemned these latest incidents and called for more surveillance at festivals.

“This is so disgusting. These are obnoxious acts by deplorable men,” Stefan Löfven told the Sweden’s newspaper Expressen. “This must stop.”

Shangri-La at Glastonbury

Shangri-La at Glastonbury, the site of the festival's first women-only zone

Sweden is not the only country to have mooted the idea of women-only festivals.

In 2016, for the first time in Glastonbury's 45-year history, organisers announced the formation of a women-only zone. The Sisterhood was situated in the festival’s Shangri-La zone and offered live music, workshops and DIY classes.

“The producers of The Sisterhood believe that women-only spaces are necessary in a world that is still run by and designed to benefit mainly men,” organisers said.

Photos: iStock, Rex

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