stopviolenceuw

Oktoberfest

In Uncategorized on August 16, 2011 at 8:00 am

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest festival, with over 5 million people attending every year in Germany.  Here in the States we’ve adopted our own versions of the festival, complete with beer and bratwurst, that are celebrated all over the country.  According to an article written for ABC, approximately 12 women report a sexual assault as a result of the festivities.  However, experts believe that the actual number of assaults is 10 to 12 times higher than those that are reported.  That means that around 120 to 150 women are assaulted at this event every year.  And that’s just in Germany! 

So, this year, in order to make it safer for women attending Oktoberfest festivities, they’re trying something new.  Read The Article Here.  In essence, women will have the option of having a green wristband with important information (name, home address, phone numbers, etc).  That way, if they get drunk, they know where to go or who to call – it is the hope that this will help to reduce the number of sexual assaults that occur over the duration of Oktoberfest.

Isn’t that sweet.

Now, aside from the fact that this is blatant victim blaming and continuing the tradition of teaching people “don’t get raped,” instead of “don’t rape,” this is insulting to women on so many levels.  I’m gonna cover the few things that really irk me – but please feel free to toss your opinions into the comment section.

By strapping women’s wrists with information about how to get home – but not men’s – shows a complete disrespect for women’s intelligence.  It makes me think about when I was a little girl and my mom would strap a leash onto my wrist so I wouldn’t get lost in the mall.   The women who have been assaulted at Oktoberfest are not stupid; they do not need to be treated like children. 

AND!  On a slightly different take, by putting that kind of personal information out in the open, available right on your wrist, there is a risk of exposing important details about a person’s life.  I know I don’t want my address hanging out on my wrist for anyone to see it.  Stalkers would have a field day with that information – names, phone numbers, addresses, all ripe for the taking.  Maybe you won’t be assaulted at an Oktoberfest event – but who’s to stop someone from showing up at your house?

     I understand the concept that they’re going for here – they’re trying to prevent violence from happening by providing women the information they need to get home or contact a friend.  However, I think there other initiatives that they can do to help prevent sexual violence from occurring.

     For example, they’ve already got a security check point in place during the festival.  This is fantastic!  It provides a safe place for women to go if they’ve had too much to drink and want to “sleep it off,” or to report an assault, or to avoid an assault.  Maybe they should expand those efforts and keep checkpoints all over the festival, instead of just hiding out in the back.  Or, even just expand the security checkpoint hours.  As it stands, they are only open until 1am.  While I’ve never been to Oktoberfest, my perception is that the party would continue past 1am. 

The check point also provides women the opportunity to have an escort or a car ride home.  Again, fantastic!  Maybe if they offered rides later than 1am or had multiple points throughout the festival where women could go to find a ride, this would be a much more effective service in lowering the sexual violence statistics of Oktoberfest.

With all that said, there still needs to be some sort of primary prevention efforts made.  Putting out PSAs, brochures, handouts, information, programs, speakers, concerts, whatever, before and during the event about sexual violence, what it is, how to prevent it, where to get help, etc. would be essential to have.  There’s clearly an organization willing to put forth effort to protect the women who attend Oktoberfest – we need to use those people and figure out new ways to make the public aware of the issue and engage them as active bystanders during the festival. 

I drifted a bit there.  Back to the bracelets – I guess what really bothers me is that I don’t see them slapping wristbands on men that read, in big bold letters, “DON’T RAPE ANYONE TONIGHT, STUPID.” 

So, I have a solution to make this a little bit more fair.  In addition to the green wristbands they’re giving women, they need to distribute wristbands (preferably of a bright obnoxious color) to all of the men that read one of the following slogans:

“DON’T RAPE ANYONE TONIGHT, STUPID”

 “KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF”

Or even:  “Behalten Sie Ihren Penis in Ihrer Hose” which roughly translates to “KEEP IT IN YOUR PANTS, DUDE”

I’m sure there’s some sort of snappy, catchphrase that they could come up with as a reminder to men that they need to be respectful of the women who are just trying to enjoy the Oktoberfest.  I guess what I’m saying is – if we’re going to mark the women as a reminder not to get assaulted, we should mark the men as a reminder not to assault!

What do you think about this?

For more information about the organization working to end sexual violence at Oktoberfest, click Here or Here.

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