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New organisation aims to tackle violence against women and girls at events

Safer Spaces, a volunteer-led, community interest organisation, has been launched to tackle sexual violence, harassment and abuse at music festivals and events.

The organisation was created by two sisters, Anna MacGregor and Madeleine North, in 2021 as a result of their own personal and professional experiences. Safer Spaces will aim to tackle violence and abuse of women and girls (VAWG) at concerts, festivals and other events.

A number of events and festivals across the UK and internationally are confirmed to include Safer Spaces, where women and girls that feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable, or who have been sexually assaulted, abused or harassed, can go.

A report conducted by YouGov and released in 2018 revealed that one in five festival-goers had experienced sexual assault or harassment at a festival. Two in five young female attendees had been subjected to unwanted sexual behaviour.

Safer Spaces was set up to help educate and create a culture that challenges and prevents sexual violence, harassment and domestic abuse at festivals and events. The organisation will also provide women and girls access to support, with Safer Spaces tents offering a welcoming safe space.

These tents will offer a place to report incidents in private and get professional support. It is hoped that by providing spaces such as this, more women and girls will report sexual abuse, harassment or unwanted attention.

Having support in place will also mean that women and girls will be able to go back to the festival or event and enjoy themselves after accessing support and a calm environment.

Anna MacGregor, chief executive and co-founder of Safer Spaces, said: “Safer Spaces wants to eradicate VAWG and harassment throughout society by raising awareness, training professionals and members of the community to challenge behaviours, identify abuse and respond and support people who have experienced or been impacted by assault, abuse or harassment.

“As a country, we are creating better services, structures and legislation to respond to VAWG, but it is not enough. VAWG is a systemic and longstanding issue, embedded culturally and socially.

“We need to engage with people directly, creating safe spaces for women and girls and educating and challenging male violence. Festivals, events and artists are uniquely positioned to really emphasise a zero tolerance approach and show women and girls that they are valued and that male violence is condemned.”

Image: Josh Durham on Unsplash