Two music festivals happened in Sweden this weekend. They should have been celebratory events (or at least events where most people could groan mildly about the type of innocuously-less-fun-than-expected event they should have been), but instead, they became the sites of numerous — over 40 reported in total across the two festivals — sexual assaults. Now, the Associated Press reports that seven suspects from one festival — the three-day, free Putte I Parken festival in Karlstad — have been identified by Swedish police. Their names have not been revealed, and little information beyond said identification has been released. (They’ve also not yet been detained.)
The AP, citing a description by Karlstad police Inspector Leif Nyström, describes them as “seven young men,” all of whom are suspected of sexually assaulting young women and girls at the festival. (One alleged victim was 12). In the Telegraph, they were described as “foreign young men,” and two are allegedly refugees staying at an accommodation center nearby. At this festival, there were 32 reported cases of sexual assault, but no reported incidents of rape.
However, at the simultaneous Bravålla festival (which is the country’s largest music festival) in Norrköping, five cases of alleged rape were reported to the police, as well as 12 other alleged sexual assaults.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven addressed the issue in a speech:
We are in the process of reviewing them…It’s also important that we continue to ensure that police, prosecutors and other officials are better equipped to investigate such crimes and actually catch the perpetrators.
Mumford and Sons, who played at Bravålla, aimed their concern at the organizers of the festival, saying on Facebook:
We’re appalled to hear what happened at the Bravalla Festival last weekend. Festivals are a celebration of music and people, a place to let go and feel safe doing so. We’re gutted by these hideous reports…We won’t play at this festival again until we’ve had assurances from the police and organisers that they’re doing something to combat what appears to be a disgustingly high rate of reported sexual violence.
Sexual assault has been an ongoing problem at music festivals throughout the world (there were, for example, alleged cases of sexual assault and/or rape in Denmark at the 130,000-attendee Roskilde Festival), but these numbers from Swedish festivals are extremely and grossly high. They come not long after Swedish police were accused of covering up information about sexual assaults at a Stockholm festival (mostly involving groping) the previous year. (The groping had allegedly been perpetrated by a group of young migrants, and it was speculated that the police may have been trying to avoid anti-immigrant backlash — as there’d been cases of arsonists attacking asylum centers hosting refugees.)