Iceland Airwaves is one of the biggest live music events of the year, annually attracting international visitors by the thousands and serving as a platform that can catapult an act into international stardom.
Every year the city is filled with music, artists bustling between gigs and giddy concertgoers excitedly planning their musical adventure. But even a festival held in the most egalitarian country in the world must tackle taboo topics: sexual harassment at live music events.
Sexual harassment and abuse of any kind is always a problem, but it’s arguably a more prevalent problem in the nightlife arena. When people go out to have fun, to enjoy music, alcohol is inevitably involved and inhibitions are compromised.
A recent British study found that 43% of female music festival guests had experienced sexual harassment or abuse during the event. The only way we can attempt to eliminate this is to first of all talk about it, but most of all promoters, venue owners and festival organizers need to put more effort into creating spaces where guests know that the staff and other guests stand with them and that abuse and harassment is not tolerated.
Iceland Airwaves has partnered with Slut Walk Reykjavík (Druslugangan) this year to bring attention to this issue. We’re hiring an expert in trauma counselling to brief all security personnel that work with the festival and we’re hosting a panel to discuss what more can be done to combat this problem.
Druslugangan posters will be prevalent in venue bathrooms, encouraging guests to speak to staff if they feel unsafe. Festival guests are also encouraged to intervene safely or alert our staff if they witness instances of harassment or assault. There’s always more that can be done.We can all work together to create a fun and safe environment for everyone, where people can wear whatever they want and drink whatever they want without being sexually abused or harassed. This isn’t too much to ask.