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Brussels Summer Festival takes on sexual harassment

14:30 14/08/2019

Sexual intimidation is a regular occurrence at music festivals that attract tens of thousands, and the organisers of Brussels Summer Festival (BSF) are launching a campaign to combat it. Brussels’ five-day open-air festival starts today.

The festival is working with the non-profit Touche Pas à ma Pote to inform men that touching women without their consent is unacceptable and illegal. The same goes for verbal sexual harassment, made illegal in Belgium in 2014.

“It is crucial and high time that we tackle intimidation and violence against women,” Brussels-City councillor Delphine Houba told Bruzz. “As the councillor in charge of large-scale events, I want to do my utmost to draw attention to this societal problem among all parties involved.”

The campaign includes a clear message on the festival’s big screens as well as postcards handed out to festival-goers with information about what sexual intimidation is and what people can do about it. There is also a card that women can hand to men with a phone number on it. The number connects them to a message about sanctions that can be handed down to them for the crime.

Mélina Bouillez, a BSF co-ordinator wants to make it clear that there have been no reports of sexual violence at the festival before. “We hope to reach a broad public with this campaign and make them aware of the gravity of the issue,” she told Bruzz. “We want to use the visibility that this festival provides to help ensure that inappropriate behaviour also doesn’t happen the rest of the year.”

Photo: Eric Danhier/Visit Brussels

Written by Lisa Bradshaw