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Youth Festival Claims Sex Attack Epidemic ‘Has Always Existed’ in Sweden

Sweden’s youth festivals have always been plagued by an epidemic of sex attacks, according to the events manager of a festival where a number of children reported sexual abuse over the weekend.

“I’ve called around, speaking to people who went to festivals in their youth to ask how the situation was at the time,” said Per-Erik Söderström, coordinator of 2 Days in Umeå, a festival for youths aged between 13 and 17.

“And they all say that it was exactly the same, the only difference is that girls were not reporting this kind of thing before.”

The attacks are a “societal problem” for Sweden, he told SVT, adding: “Somewhere, we have failed, if girls are unable to feel safe when they go out and dance.”

After multiple attacks were reported at 2 Days in Umeå last year, the festival took steps to prevent a recurrence, which included moving DJs to the middle of the dance floor to reduce crowding at the front of the stage, and deploying a larger number of staff, more visibly, who would help young people subjected to sexual abuse and assaults.

“We took a number of different measures both before and during the festival to prevent attacks, but they still happened,” Söderström said.

“But the police told me it’s impossible to protect against sexual offenses by just making changes to how the festival operates,” he added, asserting that prevention work “must be done with boys outside of the festival environment.

To this end, Söderström announced that a project teaching boys about consent, and what constitutes sexual assault and harassment, is set to pilot at a leisure centre in Umeå.

“We will talk to the boys and start a debate over what behaviour is and isn’t OK,” he said.

“It is guys that we need to speak to about this,” he said. “It’s not that every boy is responsible for sexual harassment, but all sex attacks are carried out by boys.”

Asserting that it is a problem which is ingrained in Swedish society, Söderström said he hopes to expand the project to schools across the city so that it is compulsory, noting classes at the leisure centre would have limited reach.

“We need to tackle this issue now,” he told SVT. “These guys who are committing the sex crimes [at youth festivals] now, will be going to nightclubs in a few years, and then the problem will be moved there.

Whilst Swedish media neglected to release information on the people accused of committing sex crimes at this year’s 2 Days in Umeå, police revealed that the perpetrators at last year’s event were all “youths with a north African appearance”.

Contrary to Söderström’s assertion that sex attacks at Swedish festivals are nothing new, a report published in June revealed the number rose by as much as 1,000 per cent in 2016.

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