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Coachella Is Taking Steps To Prevent Sexual Assault

Coachella's new Every One initiative will include trained counselors, consent guidelines, and "safety ambassadors" at this year's festival.

by Leila Ettachfini
Jan 4 2019, 7:11pm

Robert Kohlhuber via Stocksy 

Ahead of their upcoming annual festival this April, Coachella is taking steps towards preventing sexual assault and harassment in 2019 with a new initiative called Every One. According to Coachella's website, Every One will work to ensure that "persons of any gender identity or expression, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, age or ability are welcome at Coachella."

As a part of the Every One initiative, this year Coachella will have "Trained Safety Ambassadors" throughout the grounds, tents with trained counselors, all-gender restrooms (in addition to men's and women's restrooms), and guidelines for festival goers to follow, like "Always ask for consent," and "Be respectful of other people’s cultures." The site also warns that those who violate these policies are subject to immediate removal from the grounds without refund.

The festival, among the most recognized in the world, has a history of being a hotbed for sexual harassment and assault. Last year, Teen Vogue interviewed 54 women, all of whom alleged that they were sexually assaulted at the 2018 festival. Multiple reports of groping, rape, and other forms of sexual assault have surfaced since its inaugural festival in 1999.

But, in comparison to other festivals, Coachella is not alone in its track record of assault and harassment. From Glastonbury to Lollapalooza, reports of sexual assault, harassment, and rampant rape culture (men at Coachella and Lollapalooza were once seen wearing shirts that read, "eat sleep rape" and "rape your face") have been prominent for years both in the US and internationally. Last year, Sweden's 2018 Bråvalla music festival was canceled after police received four reports of rape and 23 other reports of sexual assault during their 2017 festival.

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Before Coachella announced their Every Day initiative, festivals aware of the prevalence of assault at their events implemented their own measures to combat the issue. Last year, Pitchfork partnered with RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) to address concerns of sexual assault at their annual event. Their partnership consisted of both donating festival proceeds to the network as well as on-site counselors, security, and a resource center. Last year, Bonnaroo held "consent 101" and "bystander training" classes during their festival, while other festivals have introduced women-only areas and handed out consent cards.

Post #MeToo, Coachella's announcement about plans to prevent sexual assault has been both welcomed and questioned for its motives, with many online pointing out that Coachella's owner Philip Anschutz supports President Trump, who once bragged about sexually assaulting women. Whether or not the festival's Every Day initiative will be effective come April remains to be seen.