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Sweden proposes 'man-free' music festival

July 6, 2017

In the wake of numerous reports of sexual offenses at Swedish music festivals in recent years, a comedian and radio presenter has said she is organizing "man-free" festivals until men "have learned how to behave."

A police officer helps with security in the campsite at Bravalla Festival
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/I. Nordfjell

Following numerous reports of rape and sexual assault during the Bravalla music festival in Sweden, radio presenter and comedian Emma Knyckare has said she plans to organize a festival where only women are allowed.

Reacting on Twitter, Knyckare said the proposed festival would take place "until ALL men have learned how to behave themselves."

She later confirmed her plan on Instagram, saying that she would "bring together a solid group of talented organizers and project leaders" in the coming days. This year's Bravalla festival featured performances by groups such as The Killers, Prophets of Rage and Dutch DJ Martin Garrix.

Read more: Music festivals with less alcohol? Lithuania leads the way

One of last year's headliners, Mumford & Sons, said in response to the reported offenses in 2016 that they would not play at the festival again until safety could be guaranteed for their female fans.

'This must stop'

On Saturday, Bravalla - Sweden's largest music festival - announced that next year's edition had been cancelled due to the series of alleged sexual assaults.

"Certain men... apparently cannot behave. It's a shame. We have therefore decided to cancel Bravalla 2018," the festival's organizers said in a statement.

Bravalla Music Festival performance
Organizers have canceled the 2018 edition of the festivalImage: picture-alliance/dpa/TT News Agency/P. Lundahl

Police in the southeastern district of Ostergotland said they had received four reports of rape and 23 reports of sexual assault over the four-day event, attended by thousands of people.

Similar assaults were reported at last year's edition, as well as other music festivals in Sweden and abroad.

"This is so disgusting. These are obnoxious acts by deplorable men," Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told the Swedish daily Expressen on Sunday, calling for stronger surveillance at festivals. "This must stop."

The reported sexual assaults have been blamed for a drop in ticket sales. FKP Scorpio, the German owner of the Bravalla festival, said this year's festival drew around 45,000 people, down from 52,000 in 2016.

"It stopped being about music and became almost completely about crime and violence," Folkert Koopmans, CEO of FKP Scorpio, told TT news agency. 

In the UK, the idea of "man-free" venues has already taken hold. In 2016, the Glastonbury Festival introduced an area called The Sisterhood open to "all people who identify as women."

"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," organizers said in a statement.

cmk/ss (AFP, AP)