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Fury over rape reports at Swedish music festivals

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Fury over rape reports at Swedish music festivals
Police at the Bråvalla festival on Saturday. Photo: Izabelle Nordfjell/TT
17:13 CEST+02:00
Swedish activists and politicians have spoken out after a spate of reported rapes and groping at weekend festivals.

Five rapes and a number of sexual assaults were reported at the popular Bråvalla festival in Norrköping over the weekend. Meanwhile, at the Putte i Parken festival in Karlstad, at least 35 groping incidents were registered by police, including teenage boys grabbing the breasts of female audience members.

As The Local reported last week, police have been handing out anti-groping campaign bracelets ahead of the summer festival season, aimed at raising awareness to curb sexual harrassment among young people. But on Sunday and Monday, calls were being heard for officers and organizers to take stronger action.

"They [festival organizers] perhaps want to take it seriously and they are on their way towards understanding after quite some time. But very little is happening," Lisen Andréasson Florman, who runs non-profit initiative Nattskiftet, which aims to create a safe environment at festivals, told Swedish news agency TT.

Police press spokesman Thomas Agnevik, who was present at the Bråvalla festival, agreed in part.

"I can understand that criticism. As long as these serious crimes are happening, of course not enough has been done. Nobody should have to go to a concert and leave as a rape victim," he told the newswire.

Some are calling for increased camera surveillance at festivals, while others argue that this would infringe on privacy. Agnevik said that without CCTV it is "impossible" to get a clear view of a 20,000-strong audience.

"It is not a super easy question. At the same time, there's camera surveillance at football matches; you agree to that when you buy the ticket," said Agnevik. "I don't think you want half the audience to be police officers."

The leader of Sweden's Centre Party, Annie Lööf, who was set to speak on Monday at the annual Almedalen Week politics meet-up on Gotland, said sexual assaults were "unacceptable". 

"But then, all women and I know that it has always been tough to be a girl at nightclubs, to be in environments with a lot of people, where men take liberties and lines are crossed," she said.

THE LOCAL DENMARK: Five rape reports filed at Roskilde festival

The debate about sexual molestation flared in Sweden earlier this year after it emerged that groups of boys had groped girls at the We Are Sthlm youth festival for at least two years running.

Swedish police were heavily criticized at the time for not releasing details on the 36 reports of sexual assault and two rape allegations filed after the festivals in 2014 and 2015.

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