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Sweden’s Bråvalla festival cancelled in 2018, following reports of multiple rapes

By | Published on Tuesday 4 July 2017

Bråvalla 2017

The 2018 edition of Sweden’s Bråvalla festival has been called off, after numerous reports of rape and sexual assault at this year’s event last weekend.

As previously reported, the festival drew controversy last year due to reports of attacks on the site. It came to wider attention when Mumford & Sons announced that they would boycott the festival until assurances for the safety of attendees could be made, following reports of five rapes and twelve sexual assaults.

At the time, promoter FKP Scorpio’s CEO Folkert Koopmans said that the number of incidents appeared higher than they actually were due to the way such crimes are reported in Sweden. He also claimed that two of the reports of rape were retracted and that the other three were recorded as sexual harassment upon investigation. He did not address the sexual assault claims.

However, the organisers have taken a less relaxed view following this year’s event, after police said that they had received four reports of rape and 23 sexual assaults.

After the event finished on Sunday, a statement appeared on Facebook saying that the event had been both “amazing, joyful and sunny” and “frustrating, gloomy, strange, sad and rainy”.

The day before, a press release had been issued announcing that, while the 2017 festival would continue as planned, organisers had already decided not to go ahead with the 2018 event. This statement was then republished on the festival’s website yesterday.

“Several sexual offences have been reported”, said the statement. “There are no words for how incredibly sad we are over this, and we want to regret and condemn it to the most serious. It’s not OK. We do not accept it at our festival”.

It went on to say that organisers had “done everything in our power to prevent and secure safe festival experience for our visitors” but that “sexual abuse continues to occur”.

The statement added that sexual crimes were not limited to Bråvalla, or just festivals in general, and that it is “a huge social problem that affects every part of our society”, and that attempts had been made to raise awareness. “But some men apparently cannot behave”, it concluded. “It’s a shame”.

This time Koopmans was less dismissive of the assault claims, saying: “I’ve had it. Violence kills the festival experience and the love for music, and – first and foremost – people are getting hurt. One is one too much. Therefore, we have decided not to go forward with Bråvalla 2018”.

Suggesting that this will be a hiatus, rather than the complete end of the event, FKP Scorpio press officer Kajsa Apelqvist added: “We will take a step back. This is not because of an individual offense or individual event. It’s not about the fact that we cannot handle the problem or that the problem lives in festivals, it’s about making a clear statement. We who work with Bråvalla see the festival as the company’s heart and are incredibly proud of the festival and the work that we every day put on creating a platform for music lovers to meet”.

Chairman of the City Council Of Norrköping, where Bråvalla takes place, Lars Stjernqvist, said: “It’s sad but I have respect for the decision. Everyone who has been to Bråvalla can confirm that this has been a great music festival that has given Norrköping a lot of joy. It’s incredibly sad that this has overshadowed the festival”.