Is groping at gigs a bigger problem than we all realised? It seems so, if the reaction to the Girls Against campaign is anything to go by. Anna Cowan, one of its five young female founders, brings us up to speed.
Mentioning Girls Against to people has resulted in a lot of confusion.
“People get groped at gigs? Since when?!” is a common response, as is, “Are you sure it’s harassment, and not just an accident?”
And there lies the exact issue, and the reason my friends Hannah, Ava, Bea, Anni and I decided to set up our campaign, Girls Against.
Hannah was unfortunately assaulted at a Peace gig – a band we all share a love for – and not only were we disgusted by this repulsive behaviour, we were shocked to find that there was little discussion about sexual assault at gigs among fellow gig-goers and in the industry.
Sexual harassment at gigs occurs on a much more common level than most folk are aware (it has affected everyone in our team on numerous occasions, and we have received a flood of stories from members of the public since we started talking about this issue last year).
So, after an angry ranting session between the five of us, Girls Against was born.
“We cannot stress enough that it is just as illegal to assault someone at a gig as it is on the streets. It is no more acceptable, nor is it ‘just something that happens.’”
We set up Girls Against in October as a way to raise awareness for an issue which is rarely discussed, and rarely taken seriously. Since then, we have achieved an incredible 10.1k following on Twitter alone – not including our other social media platforms – and have been featured in multiple publications, as well as being on BBC Breakfast!
Bands such as Peace, Slaves and Circa Waves have shown us their support and worked to ensure their gigs are safe. No one wants to feel uncomfortable and violated while trying to enjoy themselves and let go at a gig, and no one should feel as though it is acceptable to grope someone, regardless of the setting.
Raising awareness alone is not the only way of combating the issue, however. We are calling on venues and security companies to address the issue and attempt to directly tackle it. So far, we have worked with security company Securi Group, who have introduced training on how to spot and combat sexual assault as a part of their policy.
In addition, we want all gig-goers to look out for each other and understand that sexual harassment is not accepted in any way, shape or form.
We want every member of a crowd at a gig to make sure those around them are not in a vulnerable position or being assaulted. If they notice something, for example obvious groping which the victim has not consented to, we suggest they first make sure the person is taken away from the perpetrator, ensure they are OK, then report the assaulter to security or venue staff and make sure they take action.
We cannot stress enough that it is just as illegal to assault someone at a gig as it is on the streets. It is no more acceptable, nor is it ‘just something that happens.’
We have lots planned for 2016; we are going to work alongside victim support charities to help those who have been affected by sexual assault. In addition, we want all security groups and venues to also take the initiative and introduce training for staff; we will not stop until this is done!
We are here for the victims, to represent them and to use the platform we have built to crack down and make a real difference, so gigs can be enjoyed by everyone – which is exactly what they’re designed for.4056 Views