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Scandinavia's Largest Rock Fest Marred by Sex Abuse Reports Despite Precautions

© AFP 2023 / Mathias Loevgreen Bojesen / Scanpix Denmark The orchestra of Syrian Musicians and Damon Albarn perform at the Orange stage at the Roskilde festival on June 29, 2016
The orchestra of Syrian Musicians and Damon Albarn perform at the Orange stage at the Roskilde festival on June 29, 2016 - Sputnik International
The Danish police are investigating several cases of sexual assault at Denmark's Roskilde Festival, one of Europe's largest, despite a variety of measures taken to prevent such abuse, involving courses in "feminist self-defense."

Three young women have reported sexual assault at Roskilde Festival, a weeklong festivity that annually attracts tens of thousands of music lovers, Danish Radio reported.

A 24-year-old woman reported being raped after having a blackout while drinking, while another two managed to defend themselves, the police said. The woman involved in the reported rape received medical attention at the Sexual Assault Center at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, which is Denmark's leading medical institution.

One of the other cases involved an 18-year-old woman who said two Middle Eastern-looking men tried to drag her away from a toilet queue while offering her a massage. She reacted by kicking and shouting at the men.

The third notification of abuse came from another 18-year-old, who was approached by a man who invited her to his tent and started to undress her against her will. She managed to kick the man in the head and escape.

"It's terrible," says Roskilde Festival's spokeswoman Christina Bilde. "We don't want that for anyone. If that happens or when it happens, we're ready to help. It's important that we have preparedness in such a situation," she said.

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According to Bilde, the festival organizers have been focused on preventing abuse for the past three years. Roskilde Festival is in dialogue with Rigshospitalet's Sexual Assault Center and the police and has social workers at the festival venue. The festival also collaborates with organizations such as the Danish Women's Society, Sex and Society and Everyday Sexism Project, which work with abuse and sexism daily. These organizations have, among other things, sent 120 volunteers to the festival to talk to the festivalgoers about the importance of consent and gender roles. To accomplish this task they have been equipped with a card game about abuse and sexism.

Another initiative involves "feminist self-defense courses" led by Asta-Maja Njor Boisen for women and non-binary persons.

"We teach women to find the strength within themselves by means of mental, physical and verbal self-defense. Crying loudly can often be enough," Asta-Maja Njor Boisen, who suffered a rape attempt herself at the festival some years ago, told the newspaper Berlingske.

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Last year, Roskilde Festival organizers also came under fire for failure to prevent sexual abuse, as a total of six rapes marred the reputation of Scandinavia's largest festival.

Roskilde Festival, held in the eponymous Danish city, has been attracting thousands of music lovers from all around Europe since 1971. In recent years, it has attracted some 130,000 visitors annually. This year's edition is held between July 1 and July 8.

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