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Women-only music festival found guilty of discrimination in Sweden

The Statement festival, the world’s first major music festival for women, non-binary and transgender-only has been found guilty by Sweden’s discrimination ombudsman (DO).

The crowdfunded event was held in Gothenburg in August after a successful campaign that raised 533,120SEK, or A$82,670. It was set up in response to sexual assaults against women at music festivals.

At the time the festival went off without a hitch – or a man – but the DO opened an investigation into the festival’s admission policy in July.

The DO found that while festival organisers didn’t enforce a “man-free” rule because “no differentiation based on sex was made between visitors at entry”, the marketing released before the event “discouraged a certain group from attending the event” and breached the law banning gender discrimination.

No damages were paid and no penalties were imposed. In response to the findings, the organiser of Statement responded on Facebook:

“It’s sad that what 5,000 women, non-binaries and transgender experienced as a life-changing festival made a few cis men lose it completely.”

“The success of the Statement festival shows that is exactly what we need and the DO’s verdict doesn’t change this fact. Otherwise, we have no comments. We are busy changing the world.”

DO press officer Class Lundstedt told The Guardian:

“Clearly we believe that sexual abuse, especially at festivals, is a serious problem. So we are looking forward to trying to correct this.”

“However, it shouldn’t happen in a way that violates the law, which their statements in the media and their website (did).”

Statement festival was founded by comedian Emma Knyckare after a spate of sexual assaults at Sweden’s largest music festival, Bråvalla, which led to the event being cancelled in 2018.

Organisers referred to Statement as “a safe space for the people who want to attend a festival without feeling scared for their personal safety” and said that it would strive to preserve female, transgender and non-binary safety “until ALL men learn how to behave themselves.”

 

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