The ‘man-free’ Statement Festival, designed to be a safe space, has been found to be in breach of Swedish law
In 2018, punters were cheering for the creation of Statement Festival – a two-day music event for only female and non-binary ticket holders. Spurred on by a string of rapes and sexual assaults at festivals like Bråvalla in 2017, Statement Festival was created to offer a non-threatening space for women to enjoy live music.
The Guardian reports that yesterday the Swedish discrimination ombudsman (DO) found the festival in breach of gender discrimination. The DO claims that although Statement didn’t encourage a “man-free” rule on the door, they “discouraged a certain group from attending the event” via media posts and promotional material.
Their five-month long investigation also discovered that no one suffered from these rules, so no penalties will be imposed. In regards to eliminating sexual assault at gigs, DO press officer Class Lundstedt told the Guardian that the government are looking for solutions. “Clearly, we believe that sexual abuse, especially at festivals, is a serious problem,” she says. “However, it shouldn’t happen in a way that violates the law, which (their) statements in the media and their website (did).”
Statement’s one iteration so far, in Gothenburg in August this year, was lauded a success. “It’s sad that what 5,000 women, non-binaries and transgender (people) experienced as a life-changing festival made a few cis men lose it completely,” Statement’s promoters posted on Facebook in wake of the verdict.
Co-founded by comedian and TV host Emma Knyckare, Statement got off the ground thanks to a crowdfunding campaign which raised 533,120SEK (£46,555).
Despite the charge, the minds behind the organisation gleaned that the fight isn’t over. The promoters added on Facebook: “we are busy changing the world.”