Bravalla is Sweden’s largest annual music festival. Two weeks ago, roughly 52,000 spectators showed up to hear Mumford & Sons, Rammstein, and other artists. As the music played, a group of men assaulted 40 young women and raped 5. Most of the victims were under 18.
Music festivals are chaotic. Bodies jostle together, drugs are passed from hand to hand, and singing and screaming fills the air as each band takes the stage. One can imagine how easy it would be to take advantage of a young woman in this situation.
“I should be able to go to festivals and have fun like everyone else without being afraid,” said one victim. “It is wrong, really wrong, but that’s the feeling I have after yesterday. It’s damn hard that ordinary people who just want to have fun should have to suffer just because someone thinks it’s fun to violate.”
Most of the victims said they were confronted by groups of men. Others complained they were being filmed while using the bathroom. Two shocked teens admitted that one man masturbated right in front of them.
The assailants were described as “migrant youths” and, ironically, some were wearing “do not grope” wristbands. The attacks were “surreal,” says Ms. Lisen Andréasson Florman, leader of a nonprofit group that strives to maintain a safe environment at music festivals. Lisen herself was attacked during the show:
“I was standing at the back of the audience during a concert after dark. My colleagues were a bit further away from me when three tall men came up to me. I am quite used to drunk men coming up and talking to me, but these guys were more unpleasant. They were much taller than me and started hugging me even though I did not want them to. Then they started grabbing my breasts very roughly. I felt so small and vulnerable. It was as though I sank down into the ground. Like there was nothing I could do and I was in their possession. I had felt safe, proud, and strong up until that moment, but now it was all gone.”
The Bråvalla attacks occurred on the same weekend as another concert, where a mob of “foreign youths” assaulted 35 girls – one as young as 12.
Police are facing considerable criticism for their failure to protect the concertgoers. “If a crime is being committed obviously not enough has been done,” said police spokesman Thomas Agnevik. “Nobody should have to go to a convert and leave as a rape victim.”
Agnevik admits that police are powerless when it comes to protecting people in such large crowds, especially after dark. “Two of the rapes happened in front of the stage in the crowd, another was in a tent and another in the public bathroom,” he adds.
Norrköping police have taken a handful of young men into custody for questioning. “I won’t comment about their background, but they are young boys aged between 15 and 25,” said Agnevik.
Headlining band Mumford & Sons is “appalled” and “gutted” by the rape reports and refuses to return to the festival until they can be assured that organizers and police are making a serious effort to stop the “disgustingly high” rates of sexual violence.
Editor’s note: Do you think Sweden is beginning to regrret its generous immigration policy yet?