Anders Ygeman made the remarks in Linköping on Wednesday at the concert industry’s annual conference, where a key talking point was the wave of mass sexual assaults that hit music festivals across Sweden last year.
Chair of the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education Kristina Ljungros said the attacks are nothing new, asserting that the only reason the assaults have come into focus in the last year is because people have begun to speak out.
“We don’t believe that the number of crimes taking place [at music festivals] has increased,” she said. “But people kept quiet about them before. It’s good that we’re talking about it now, because we have to prevent these crimes. We all have a responsibility.”
The Social Democrat minister agreed, stating: “It’s good that we’re talking about sexual molestation. Sexual molestation at festivals is, in my eyes, less common now than it was 20 years ago, but we’re talking about it now.”
Ygeman met with representatives from a number of music festivals to discuss public safety and ways of tackling sexual abuse. Industry representatives highlighted “sensational reporting” as having caused problems last year, complaining that they believe the media scared young people off attending,
“More balanced coverage would be desirable”, said Eva Widgren, project manager for We Are Stockholm at Stockholm’s Culture Administration, who added that the festival will this year take a harder line with the media.
Reports of mass sex assaults at migrant males at Swedish music festivals became pronounced in the local media during the height of summer last year. Breitbart London reported on a number of these attacks, including one at an anti-racism festival in Borlange where police received “dozens” of complaints of sex assaults at the hands of “foreign men”.
Despite increased police presence, the number of sex attacks reported at We Are Stockholm festival in August more than doubled from the 2015 figure, with the police report noting the all the suspects were foreign.
July saw sexual assaults take place at a number of festivals including at Bravalla in Norrkoping, where five rapes and 40 assaults took place, in which the attackers were also identified as foreigners.