After being sexually assaulted by two of her “friends,” a woman was scared to attend a music festival in the U.K., since the “friends” would be among her fellow concert-goers. So the Glastonbury Festival made arrangements for the sexual assault survivor to attend safely, which is, quite frankly, something all festival organizers should consider.
Laura Whitehurst, a 27-year-old woman from Manchester, bought tickets early for the huge music festival and joined a WhatsApp group message with her friends to get hyped about it. But in April, Whitehurst informed the group that two of the men on the very same group message had raped her. She went to the police and reported it, and they did what society often does to female victims: Told her not to go to the Glastonbury Festival and stay out of the way.
She called the festival to see if she could get a refund for her ticket, but instead of just reissuing her cash, the festival promised to make special arrangements for her to feel safe! Because why should she have to miss out on summer fun when she didn’t do anything wrong?
So, head of operations Adrian Coombs called her and assured her they would take care of her. And the organizers pulled through in a major way.
Staff reserved a campsite far from her alleged attackers, gave her a parking pass, had her enter with a staff member and gave her and a friend access to private bars and areas so she could be away from crowds and feel safer. Even cooler? They gave her an emergency number to call and a note that read, “The bearer of the letter must have her requests for safety taken seriously and she must be taken to safety immediately.”
The way the Glastonbury Festival took care of this sexual assault survivor is pretty amazing.
In a blog post, Whitehurst wrote:
Unfortunately, festivals can’t do that for every single woman who attends a days-long music festival, though it looks like they really should. While Whitehurst was protected for the duration of the festival, another woman reported that she was sexually assaulted on the Glastonbury grounds. No arrests have been made, but the police tweeted out mid-festival, “We need your help after a sexual assault on the bridge close to Silver Hayes at 1130pm last night. If you saw anything, call 101/grab a cop.”
Festivals are not a safe space for women. There were 27 sexual assaults reported at Sweden’s Bråvalla this year, leading to its cancellation next year. Assaults are so common that women have even floated the idea of all-female music festivals, kicking men out altogether for the events. Other festivals have worked hard to run awareness campaigns at the venues, like putting up posters informing people that consent is a thing that people should ask for before putting their hands on someone or having sex with them.
It’s awful that women aren’t safe with their friends or in public places like a sleep-away music festival. But it is reassuring to know that an event would do everything it could for someone who didn’t feel safe. More like this, please.