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British band boycotts Swedish festival over reported rapes

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British band boycotts Swedish festival over reported rapes
15:50 CEST+02:00
UPDATED: Bråvalla festival organizers have told The Local they are working with police to prevent sexual crime, after British rock band Mumford & Sons vowed not to perform at the four-day event again.

Festival-goers reported five rapes as well as several other sexual offences at the Bråvalla festival in Norrköping, central Sweden, over the weekend. Dozens of groping incidents were also registered at the Putte i Parken festival in Karlstad, where girls said they had had their breasts grabbed by teenage boys.

London-based rockers Mumford & Sons, who performed at the Bråvalla event, said on Tuesday that they would never return to the Swedish festival again unless police and organizers acted to stop future incidents.

"We're appalled to hear what happened at the Bråvalla Festival last weekend. Festivals are a celebration of music and people, a place to let go and feel safe doing so. We're gutted by these hideous reports," the four band members wrote on their official Facebook page, signing the message with their initials.

"We won't play at this festival again until we've had assurances from the police and organizers that they're doing something to combat what appears to be a disgustingly high rate of reported sexual violence."

The band, which consists of Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall and Ted Dwane, released their first studio album Sigh No More in 2009. They have racked up several music gongs since, including winning the Brit Award for Best British Group in 2013.

Several Swedish artists also hit out after the police reports emerged over the weekend.

"F**k you who shamelessly rapes a girl in the audience. You deserve to burn in hell," tweeted teen pop idol Zara Larsson, who recently sang the official Euro 2016 hit together with French DJ David Guetta.

In a comment emailed to The Local on Tuesday afternoon, festival organizers said that the perpetrators were "not welcome at our events" and that they were working with police to ensure visitors' safety.

"We are devastated about the fact that among all the joy and community that Bråvalla festival stands for and symbolizes to so many people, we have individuals among us, spreading fear and subjecting others to atrocious behaviour. We are and always have been in dialogue with the police and security and safety experts in order to make the festival as safe and secure as possible," said Niklas Westergren, head of marketing at FKP Scorpio which organizes the Bråvalla festival.

Asked to comment on Mumford & Sons' decision not to perform at future events, he said: "Festivals reflect our society, and the individuals that commit these crimes are not doing it because they are at a festival. Sexual crime is unfortunately committed all over the world: in schools, at work, in the pub, on the street and even in homes. We all need to work harder on preventing such crime from happening, all event promoters, all politicians, all media and each and every human being."

Bråvalla is Sweden's biggest music festival. This year around 52,000 tickets were sold for the four-day event.

Across the Öresund strait, Danish police said that the number of rapes at this year's Roskilde music festival was at its highest point in several years, with five incidents reporting during an otherwise quiet festival. 

Meanwhile, police in Sweden's Värmland region were forced to retract a claim that suspects linked to a number of groping incidents at the Putte i Parken festival were a group of seven to eight young refugees, after it proved to be false. By Tuesday afternoon, it was understood that only two had been confirmed as unaccompanied minors, while one of them was "definitely not" according to police.

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