Sweden’s biggest music festival will be replaced next year by a women-only alternative after reports of a series of rapes and sexual assaults at this year’s event.
Bråvalla Festival, which this year was headlined by The Killers, The Chainsmokers and Skepta, has been blighted by news of sexual crime since its inception in 2013, while last weekend saw four rapes and 23 sexual assaults reported over the course of the four-day event. In 2016, five rapes and 12 sexual assaults were reported from the event, with that year’s headliners Mumford & Sons and Zara Larsson later condemning the event and refusing to return.
After next year’s festival was cancelled and its organisers released an oddly-phrased statement claiming “certain men apparently cannot behave”, Swedish comedian and radio presenter Emma Knyckare took to social media with an intriguing proposition.
“What do you think about putting together a really cool festival where only non-men are welcome,” Knyckare tweeted, “that we’ll run until ALL men have learned how to behave themselves?”
Knyckare’s suggestion reached the powers-that-be, and she later posted to Instagram apparent confirmation that a women-only festival was indeed to take place.
“Sweden’s first man-free rock festival will see the light next summer,” she wrote. “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.”
While smaller women-only festivals can be found the world over, most notably the late Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, last year referenced in an episode of Transparent, the 50,000-capacity Bråvalla Festival will be the most high-profile music event to entirely refuse entry to men.
It’s also the first significant response to a worldwide initiative designed to curb sexual assaults and misogyny at music festivals.
Twenty-eight British festivals, including Bestival, Parklife and Secret Garden Party, staged an online “blackout” in May as part of the #saferspacesatfestivals campaign.