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This Organization Wants to End Sexual Assault at Festivals Through Education

On-site counseling and information bracelets are some of the initiatives from the Isle of Wight Council.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The UK's Isle of Wight Council has focused its efforts to reduce sexual assault England's Isle of Wight Festival and Bestival by creating coordinated, on-site initiatives that directly reach festival guests. In an interview with NPR, David Huggins, the domestic abuse coordinator with the Isle of Wight Council, shared some of the new initiatives the group has created.

Volunteers or specialist counselors (around four according to Huggins) are on-site in a designated tent during festivals to counsel victims of sexual assault or rape. The tent also has materials with information for festival guests.

In the interview, Huggins also said the tent is not entirely formal. "But we want to make it a bit of fun as well, so we make bracelets which have messages — things like, "Love doesn't hurt," "No means no." So it's an engagement process where you get festivalgoers to come along, ask what we're doing," Huggins said. "They sit down, they start making some beads or bracelets, we start talking and you raise awareness through that medium."

According to Huggins, no other festivals in the U.K. have something set up like the Isle of Wight Council's on-site presence because of the potential stigma of associating a music festival with sexual violence. "Hopefully we can spread the word and other festivals on the mainland in the U.K., at least, will have a similar approach," Huggins said. In March, THUMP investigated whether female-only campgrounds can stop sexual assaults at music festivals.