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66% of women in U.K. study say they fear sexual assault at music festivals, and the U.S. isn't much better

Meghan DeMaria
Yahoo Lifestyle
Women enjoy a concert. (Photo: Getty Images)

Music festivals should be places to relax, enjoy listening to performances by a variety of artists, and down some delicious food-truck delicacies. But there’s a darker side to these festivals, too: the rampant sexual assault and harassment that often takes place at the events. A new study from the United Kingdom’s Durham University found that nearly seven out of 10 women worried about sexual harassment at U.K. music festivals.

As reported by The Guardian, the Durham University survey took into account responses from 258 people in Britain. Of the survey respondents, 66% said that they were “worried about sexual assault” at music festivals, The Guardian noted. That’s comparable to the percentage of those who were concerned about theft at festivals, which was the case for 64% of respondents. And while 65% of women reported being worried about sexual harassment, plenty of men were, too. Of the men surveyed, 56% saw sexual assault at festivals as a concern.

And, unfortunately, there have been similar findings about festivals in the United States.

Citing a survey from Our Music My Body, The Chicago Tribune reported in March that of the respondents, 92% of women who’d attended concerts had experienced harassment at the events. And as with the U.K. survey, it’s more than a women’s issue. Thirty-one percent of men surveyed by the activist group also said they’d been harassed at concerts.

Our Music My Body is a campaign that seeks to eliminate sexual harassment at music festivals. The campaign has helped create policies targeting harassment for festivals including Lollapalooza and Pitchfork, the Tribune explained. In the survey, which took into account more than 500 respondents, the campaign asked the respondents what festivals could do to make the concerts safer spaces. An overwhelming 99% of respondents favored increased security at the events.

Last week, the Associated Press reported that artists are joining the initiative to make festivals safer for concertgoers. The AP story cited a performance during which singer Madison Beer paused a show to tell a man to leave alone a woman who was clearly being harassed. The AP also reported that some artists have chosen to include “anti-harassment policies” in their contracts.

But even with everyone who’s fighting to make concerts a safer place, there’s still a very long way to go. Mimi Stern, who volunteered with Our Music My Body at Lollapalooza last year, told Marie Claire in May that she was groped while at the festival’s anti-harassment campaign booth. And as the magazine noted, even zero-tolerance policies don’t necessarily mean a harasser will be apprehended or asked to leave the festival.

Ending harassment at music festivals isn’t a one-pronged approach. Activists and artists are both working to solve the problem, while groups like Our Music My Body are demonstrating the need for more security at music festivals. Of course, the entire problem could be solved if people simply stopped harassing each other and let their fellow concertgoers enjoy the music in peace.

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