— Expressen (@Expressen) 1 juli 2017
The Bråvalla-festival is no more. Started in 2013 as a four day long festival near Norrköping, Sweden, it claims to be the biggest music festival in Sweden, hosting some of the biggest and best bands and artists. Two days ago, however, it reported on Facebook that there will be no 2018 edition. The reason? Too much sexual violence, including rapes.
After rapes being reported in Bråvalla and another festival in 2016, the Bråvalla-festival, in its statement, said it had increased security.
“We have done everything in our power to prevent and secure a safe festival experience for our visitors. This year’s Bråvalla has been the best one in many respects; Staff, NGOs and audiences have testified to the great mood and we have the quietest festival in the number of reported crimes measured.“
Despite this, Swedish police confirmed they had received, and were investigating four potential rapes and some 22 counts of molestation reported on, or near, the festival grounds. In one instance, a teenage girl was reported to have been sexually assaulted during a concert on Friday. Multiple molestations were reported to have occurred during a performance by Håkan Hellström, a local musician.
The organisation of Bråvalla has said in response that:
“Words cannot describe how incredibly sad we are about this, and we most seriously regret and condemn this. This is not f*cking okay. We do not accept this at our festival.“
The Facebook post continues by defending the decision by pointing out that Sweden has a problem with rape. It says rape is “a huge social problem that affects every part of our society” with “hundred rapes [being] committed every day in Sweden.” the Bråvalla organiser calls it a “challenge society in general needs to deal with.” It then goes on to blame men:
“But certain men, for it is men, apparently cannot behave. It is a shame.“
In a response, the Leader of Sweden’s Liberal People’s Party, Jan Björklund condemned the attacks, saying:
“Festivals should be a place of joy – for everyone. It will require strong action from the community, organizers, police, parents and from us if we are to put an end to sexual violence against women.“
In a press release by FKP Scorpio Sweden, the company behind the Festival, Kajsa Apelqvist says that the decision to not organise the 2018 edition is:
“Not about the fact that we cannot handle the problem, or that the problem is inherent to festivals, but about making our position clear. The people that work at Bråvalla see the festival as the company’s heart, we are incredibly proud of the festival and the work we put in every day, creating a platform for music lovers to meet.“
However, reports of rape and sexual assaults are not the only problem facing the festival. Its annual report shows that last year, FKP Scorpio Sweden lost SEK 35 million (ca. €3.6 million), while its parent company, FKP Scorpio Nordic AB annual report showed a SEK 75 million (ca. €7.8 million) loss. This prompted questions about how ‘clear’ te company’s position really is. Apelqvist’s response:
“Of course, it’s not good economically, running a festival so strongly associated with violence and insecurity. But claiming that we are using violent crimes as a pretext not to organise the festival next year is strange and cynical speculation.“