“Man-Free” Music Festival Found In Violation Of Discrimination Law

December 19, 2018 | No Comments » | Topics: Story

statement festival all women festival

A music festival in Sweden has been found to be discriminatory after advertising itself as being man-free. The inaugural Statement Festival was held in Gothenburg in late August and was billed as “the world’s first major music festival for women, non-binary and transgender only” 

The Statement festival was held in Gothenburg, Sweden in August following a crowdfunding campaign. Comedian Emma Knyckare founded the event as “a safe space for the people who want to attend a festival without feeling scared for their personal safety.”

But Sweden’s Discrimination Ombudsman (DO), which opened an investigation in July, ruled that by advertising itself as “man-free” the festival “discouraged a certain group from attending” and thus violated discrimination laws.

Men were not prevented from buying a ticket or entering the festival grounds but male members of artists’ entourages and the likes of technicians and managers were reportedly restricted to a so-called ‘man-pen’ in a backstage area.

In a statement on Facebook, the organizers of the festival said:

"It’s sad that what 5,000 women, non-binaries and transgender experienced as a life-changing festival made a few cis men lose it completely. The success of the Statement festival shows that is exactly what we need and the DO’s verdict doesn’t change this fact. Otherwise, we have no comments. We are busy changing the world.”

Cis-men are considered those whose biological gender is consistent with their legal, social and perceived gender: essentially men who identify as males.

Knyckare launched Statement after four rapes and 23 sexual assaults occurred at the 2017 Bravalla Festival, one of Sweden’s biggest music festivals. The 2018 Bravalla fest was subsequently canceled due to the assaults.

Allegations of widespread sexual abuses and the subsequent birth of the #MeToo movement consolidated their belief that a “safe space” was needed and that the festival would remain so “until all men learn how to behave themselves”.

In its statement, DO acknowledged that sexual abuse at festivals “is a serious problem” and that they are “looking forward to trying to correct this”.

“However, it shouldn’t happen in a way that violates the law, which their statements in the media and their website do,” it added.



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