Anyone who’s been to a gig knows what to expect in the moshpit. Loads of jostling, some dubious smells and a real possibility of ending up with lager in your hair. But should groping be accepted as part and parcel of being at a concert?
Absolutely not say five teenage girls who have joined forces to start a campaign, Girls Against, to end sexual harassment at gigs, concerts and festivals.
Hannah, 17, Anna, 16, Anni, 17, Ava, 16, and Bea, 17, describe themselves as “five intersectional feminists fighting against sexual assault at gigs” and say they are “here for all genders.” They started the campaign in 2015 after Hannah experienced sexual harassment at a Peace gig in Glasgow.
“It’s such a unique environment. There’s no other situation where it’s dark, loud, and you’re packed into such a tight space with hundreds of strangers,” said Hannah. “Perpetrators really feel like they can get away with it because it’s not talked about and they can defend themselves by saying it was an accident.”
Hannah found that confiding in a stranger gave her the courage to speak more openly about her experience and the girls hope that Girls Against is a safe space for other victims to speak out and work through their recovery.
Peace shared Hannah’s story on social media, asking their fans not to attend their gigs if they planned to engage in that sort of behaviour. This encouraged others to come forward with their own experiences.
Girls Against now has 11.4k followers on Twitter. “It kind of took off very quickly so we’ve been really lucky as our reception has been really great,” Hannah told SheKnows. “A lot of women have been so glad that we’ve started up as they’ve had experiences in the past and no one’s spoken about it. A lot of men have been grateful as well as they didn’t really think it went on and they’ve also had experiences but have had no one fighting for them either.”
If you have experienced unwanted sexual contact at a gig or festival, Hannah says that however you choose to deal with it, whether by confiding in friends or working through it on your own, the most important thing to remember is that “it is never and was not your fault.”
As well as offering support to those who have been sexually assaulted at gigs, Girls Against is working to increase awareness by establishing “a discussion between fans, bands, promoters, venues, security companies and any other relevant parties.”
“We want to see sexual assault and harassment training mandatory,” said Hannah. “The venue where I was assaulted have held training sessions for their staff and put up posters which is really encouraging.”
As support for the campaign grows more reps are needed, both in the U.K. and around the world. You can sign up to be a Girls Against rep on the girls’ website (closing date March 18, 2016).