Ida Östensson, founder of the organisation Crossing Boarders and of the Get it! movement, insists that the type of sexual harassment that took place at the festival is not new and that while the incidents reportedly involved young immigrant men, sexual violence has nothing to do with ethnicity.
Crossing Boarders works with "methods for equality" and Get it! works against sexual violence and for consent.
Östensson was not surprised to hear reports that boys and young men rubbed themselves against girls, touched their breasts and put their hands down girls’ trousers at the festival.
"At big festivals where a lot of people gather, there’s always a lot of sexual harassment and sexual violence. It’s a big problem and has always been,” says Östensson. “When I was 14 and went to the Stockholm Water Festival, the same thing happened to me and my friends. I’m a bit surprised that a lot of people are surprised by this."
"But the big problem here is that the police did not tell the media about it when they were asked, and instead they said everything went fine at the festival... Maybe that’s because of the normalisation of sexual violence in Sweden…because 'only' 20 people filed reports. It’s awful that we’ve gotten to this point," says Östensson.
Östensson finds it annoying to hear police say it was mainly young men with foreign backgrounds who used organised methods to surround the girls and molest them at the festival.
"It was one police who went out and said that he saw this and that they did not want to make it public because they thought that would play into the hands of racists,” says Östensson, referring to the police spokesperson who told media that there was a fear that publicising the fact that men with immigrant backgrounds had molested girls would play into the hands of the Sweden Democrat Party.
“So we don't know,” Östensson continues. “It was 200 men that they kicked out from the area, and I am certain they were not all from the same countries," she insists.
"You can't just put it down to ethnicity. It is easier for men to do that; to get away with it by pointing to someone else, so they don't have to think ‘I can be one of those who did this when I was at school’,” she says.