Germany: How protected is it for girls at Munich’s Oktoberfest?

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Germany’s well-known pageant, Oktoberfest, attracts loads of dirndl- and lederhosen-wearing merrymakers to Munich, Bavaria. This yr, it runs from September 16 till October 3. But disagreeable incidents can happen with thousands and thousands of individuals gathering on the Wiesn, the world in Munich the place the pageant takes place, and beer flowing. The “Sichere Wiesn,” or “Safer Oktoberfest,” marketing campaign supported by Munich’s metropolis well being division assists feminine guests in instances of harassment. This yr, the marketing campaign has helped 143 ladies and women who felt unsafe in the course of the pageant’s first week, together with seven suspected instances of drink spiking.

Some forms of assault against women include groping, unwanted kisses, and "upskirting."( Arthur Thill/ATP photo agency)
Some types of assault in opposition to ladies embody groping, undesirable kisses, and “upskirting.”( Arthur Thill/ATP picture company)

These ladies sought assist at Sichere Wiesn’s so-called Protected House, situated on the Oktoberfest grounds behind the Schottenhamel beer tent. It’s open day by day in the course of the week. Since 2003, the Protected House has provided assist, recommendation and assist for women and girls who’ve skilled violence, sexual harassment or typically really feel unsafe. These in want can cost their telephones, report sexual violence to the police and obtain taxi vouchers to get house, amongst different companies. Final yr, the Protected House workers assisted 450 women in whole in the course of the 17 days of Oktoberfest.

A big crowd of individuals within the Hofbräu-Festzelt tent.A big crowd of individuals within the Hofbräu-Festzelt tent. In 2022 over 5 million folks visited Oktoberfest in MunichImage: Brigitte Saar/Geisler-Fotopress/image alliance

An environment of sexualization and revelry

“The ambiance is admittedly very sexualized. Many individuals come right here to flirt, to get to know somebody, and so long as it is all consensual, it’s very nice,” says Kristina Gottlöber, Sichere Wiesn’s press contact. Nonetheless, Gottlöber additionally notes that the extreme alcohol consumption at Oktoberfest additionally permits for an environment of disinhibition.

“Individuals suppose Oktoberfest is a sort of morality-free zone, the place you may get utterly derailed,” Gottlöber says. “Additionally it is communicated to us very often that girls merely must endure [sexual violence]. In any other case, they should not come right here. That is additionally a little bit of the mindset that some folks have, and naturally, that is not proper.”

In 2022, Oktoberfest noticed 55 instances of sexual harassment, together with three rapes. Notably, these numbers symbolize solely formally reported instances, as many incidents go unreported. Younger women and men dring beer from massive glasses at Oktoberfest.Younger women and men dring beer from massive glasses at Oktoberfest. Wiesn’s “Protected House” helps ladies and women in want of assistanceImage: Brigitte Saar/Geisler-Fotopress/image alliance

Disagreeable incidents at Oktoberfest

Gottlöber highlights that the most typical types of assault embody groping, undesirable kisses, and “upskirting” — capturing pictures or movies beneath ladies’s clothes with out consent. She stresses the significance of planning forward for a protected Oktoberfest expertise and advocates for people to think about sensible steps, corresponding to carrying an exterior battery pack, conserving some cash in your pocket outdoors your pockets and having emergency contact info written someplace aside from in your cellphone.

“We’re, in fact, completely of the opinion that the blame at all times lies with the perpetrator, however we additionally know that harmful conditions can come up in a short time for women and girls on the Wiesn,” Gottlöber mentioned. Veterans of Oktoberfest typically advise carrying shorts beneath Dirndls as a safety measure. Some ladies have their very own suggestions. Denise, 25, a resident of Munich, shares her perspective: “I feel, as a girl, you shouldn’t drink an excessive amount of. It’s best to take note of your drink and different folks round you. It’s best to keep in your group with your mates.”

She additionally suggests looking for assist from safety or feminine servers within the beer tents and avoiding interactions with drunken, rowdy males as a lot as attainable. Teresa Rodgers, 40, from Colorado, recommends visiting Oktoberfest within the mornings when the ambiance is calmer and the crowds are much less boisterous.

Shared duty for security

One other important marketing campaign combating sexual violence at Oktoberfest is the “WiesnGentlemen” initiative, spearheaded by the non-profit group Condrobs. This marketing campaign primarily promotes respectful conduct, accountable ingesting, and making a safer pageant setting, notably for girls.

Launched in 2013 beneath the motto “Respect is my power,” the marketing campaign disseminates its message by means of social media, posters, college campaigns, and fascinating with guests en path to the pageant grounds. An integral a part of their efforts includes the Wiesn Braveness Award, previously often known as the WiesnGentleman Award, geared toward recognizing and incentivizing respectful conduct.

The award course of includes inviting people to share their tales of an incident the place they helped to create a safer setting – for instance, by serving to out somebody in want – or nominating somebody to win the prize by means of the affiliation’s web site. A jury rigorously evaluates the submissions and selects a deserving winner who receives a voucher for an Oktoberfest outfit.

Whereas rewarding conduct that ought to be thought of customary could seem unconventional, Birgit Treml from Condrobs underscores the unlucky actuality that respectful conduct is not at all times the norm. Furthermore, it isn’t unusual for bystanders to chorus from aiding these in misery. Therefore, there’s a want to advertise and reinforce respectful conduct and serving to others actively.

“Be respectful to one another,” Treml says. “This is applicable at all times and in all places in our society, however particularly right here on the Wiesn, the place so many individuals come collectively, the place loads of alcohol flows, the place it’s maybe simpler for boundaries to slide. It’s exactly on this context that it is very important keep on with boundaries and that everybody helps collectively to ascertain them.”

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