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Sweden hosts 'man-free' festival

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Sweden hosts 'man-free' festival

Sweden hosts 'man-free' festival
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Walking around Statement music festival you might notice it is significantly different to the likes of Glastonbury or Sziget.

Launched Thursday in Gothenburg, Sweden, it claims to be the world's first festival exclusively for women, trans and non-binary people.

Swedish comedienne Emma Knyckare came up with the idea last summer when the media reported rape and sexual assaults at several Swedish music festivals.

"I had no idea how much work was involved in organising a music festival, now I know," she told Euronews.

The "cis-man-free" concept for the festival presented challenges Knyckare and her team had to consider. Cismen are men whose sex assigned at birth matches their gender identity, also known as non-transgender people.

"We work exclusively with women, non-binary and transgender persons. This ranges from artists to catering to security personnel. The whole area is free of cis-men. Because managers and technical teams will also attend, there will be a separate VIP section," she said.

Concerning access to the venue, Knyckare said she has hired a security company to work on a specialised "access system".

"There's a plan, no one will be questioned at the entrance. I can't tell you exactly how we will do it, but there is a plan," she said.

To finance the festival, Knyckare and her team first collected donations via a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, raising half a million Swedish krona.

As many as 300,000 people gave money, which laid the foundations for the festival and a further budget was provided by means of sponsors.

"I travel around Sweden a lot and promote the festival, that's how you raise a little money. We do what we can," said Knyckare.

Some have claimed that the project discriminated against men, or that it is illegal, which left the team worried the event might be banned.

They even considered registering the festival as a sporting event, which allows the separation of genders in Sweden.

However, six months after planning started "something wonderful happened," according to Knyckare: the #MeToo movement.

"Now we no longer have to justify ourselves and our desire to create a safe place, a free zone, where men do not have to look fearfully over their shoulders. #MeToo has changed the debate," she said.

What does the comedienne think needs to change in society to eradicate the need for gender-separate events like Statement Festival?

"Much can be done to ensure a better, fairer society," she said. "I think men need to start working on that now.

"The next step is in the hands of men. I don't know, there's a lot that can be done. We're putting on this festival and it's not the solution, it's a reaction to the problem."

The fledgeling festival is already popular among artists — so many female musicians registered in advance of the event that there weren't enough stage slots to let them all perform.

The festival has also received a lot of media attention, but some music magazines admitted they first had to find female reporters that would be permitted to report from the festival.