The Red Cross and Ilosaarirock to join forces against sexual harassment

Benjamin Suomela / Finnish Red Cross
Image: Benjamin Suomela / Finnish Red Cross

The festival area will feature a Red Cross volunteer on call as a support person who can be turned to in cases of harassment. The goal is to achieve zero-tolerance to sexual harassment.

The Red Cross and Ilosaarirock will begin work to eliminate sexual harassment at festivals. This year, for the first time, the Ilosaarirock festival will feature a Red Cross contact person for work against sexual harassment.
The security staff of the festival will direct any harassment victims to discuss the matter with the contact person, and the security staff will also be trained to act properly in any harassment situations.
“Being intoxicated does not give anyone the right to behave disrespectfully. Taking advantage of another person’s intoxication is not acceptable in any situation, either. Bringing these matters up in the festival environment is really important,” says Health Care Planner Annukka Tapiola from the Finnish Red Cross.
The contact person will carry out close co-operation with the Red Cross’s substance abuse work, sexual health work, psychosocial support and first aid volunteers. The contact person will also be supported by the Red Cross’s substance abuse work planner, who has also worked as a volunteer for Victim Support Finland as a support person for sexual crime victims, among others.
“We are not planning to make this a one-summer campaign, but to introduce it as part of the sexual health and substance abuse work programme of the Finnish Red Cross,” Tapiola says.

There is need for action

For many years, the Finnish Red Cross has carried out volunteer activities at festivals in fields such as first aid, psychosocial support and sexual health guidance. According to Ilosaarirock and the Finnish Red Cross, there is need for new kinds of action. 
“Last summer, we took part in a survey to chart how much people experience harassment at festivals. Of course, we have identified the problem before and organised campaigns a few years ago,” says Executive Producer Petri Varis from Ilosaarirock.
Petri Varis says that due to the large numbers of people at festivals, not everyone knows how to behave appropriately. It is also important to recognise what is harmless flirting and what sort of behaviour can be considered harassment.
“In addition to clear cases, advances that fall in the grey area occur at festivals. A person may think that their own behaviour is acceptable even if it disturbs another person. That is why we wish to increase people’s understanding of the matter, so that everyone can correct their own behaviour if necessary,” Varis states.
Over many years, Ilosaarirock has featured all forms of the Red Cross’s festival work: first aid, substance abuse work, sexual health work and psychosocial support. Therefore, it is natural that the new activities will also be started with Ilosaarirock.