Bea Bennister is a 19 year old feminist and member of Girls Against, a group of girls who fight against sexual harassment and assault at music gigs, festivals and concerts. The campaign has been a huge success and has been shared all over the country in aid to prevent sexual assault.
What inspired the creation of Girls Against?
Girls Against was inspired after one of the founders had a particularly uncomfortable experience at a gig, which completely ruined the night for her. We realised that this happens far too often, and nothing is being done about it. So we decided to do something!
What has been your biggest campaign achievement so far?
I think our biggest achievement, for me, is getting to where we are now. Everything small that we have achieved as a campaign has led us to our name being able to make a difference, which is so important. Being on the big screens at Reading though was pretty cool.
Do you think since your campaign, venues/gigs/festivals have taken sexual assault more seriously?
I would hope so! There’s such a long way to go, but discussion is being raised, and venues are taking more notice than before. A step in the right direction.
Do you believe that they have put the correct action in place to prevent sexual assault from happening?
Not yet. Some venues are working on it, which is great, but it’s mainly the security’s job. We need to focus on joining forces with security and creating a clear plan for next steps.
What else do you think could be done to prevent sexual assault?
So much can still be done. As I mentioned, security play a huge roll. Having specific trained security guards who know how to support people who have experienced sexual assault at a gig, and know the appropriate method to remove the perpetrator would be ideal. Right now, that’s not happening as much as it should be.
Do you find it difficult being young and running such a strong and important campaign?
At times, yes. It’s always hard because people don’t take you as seriously in the real world if you’re young. “Not enough life experience”. But other times it’s the best thing in the world, it makes me proud to say we’re doing something good in the world at age 19.
What was it like for bands such as The 1975, to support your campaign?
Incredible. Still can’t believe it really. It’s so great to know that even large bands care about what we’re trying to do.
What should people do if they want to support Girls Against?
Our website has lots of great advice for what to do as a bystander, but spreading the word is so important. Looking out for each other at gigs, and not being ignorant to what’s going on around you is really important.
What are some goals you would like the campaign to achieve?
We have so many! A major goal for us would be getting a proper security plan in place. We’ve been working on it for a while as we want it to be perfect, but having security companies actively looking out for sexual assault in crowds would be a major step.
What are the next steps for yourself and Girls Against?
We have some amazing plans for 2018 (most of which we cannot disclose right now) but we really want to use the campaign’s platform as much as we can to talk about wider social issues within the music industry as well.