Sexualised violence

Sexualised violence in clubs and at festivals in Switzerland

Music clubs and festivals fulfil a cultural and social function in society. They are mirrors of society, meeting places for accessing culture, and give national and international artists a platform. However, they are also places where people can experience various forms of discrimination and sexualised violence. This applies not only to people in the audience but also to employees, volunteers, artists, and suppliers. The majority of those affected by sexualised violence are women, intersex, non-binary, trans, and agender people.


Sexualised violence comes in many forms: Staring at someone, demeaning language, unsolicited judging of persons and bodies, physical behaviour that crosses boundaries such as touching or sexual harassment and rape. It can be verbal, physical or psychological.
Supposedly less serious forms of sexualised violence such as unwanted intrusive behaviour and body contact are not always recognised as such or will be played down and normalised.
Not only the public of clubs and festivals are affected by sexualised violence, but also members of staff, volunteers and artists. And they are not isolated cases: sexualised violence happens everywhere – also in clubs and at festivals.
Sexualised violence is a targeted attack on the gender and sexual identity of people. It’s a form of violence, which is about power and devaluation. It mirrors the existing power relations also shown in the attribution of gender and role stereotypes and the unequal gender relations. Discrimination based on gender, gender identity and gender expression may occur together with other forms of discrimination such as racism.
As long as inequalities, power imbalances, sexism and hierarchical structures exist, sexualised violence will be omnipresent. But it can be called out, criticised, condemned and sanctioned in order to avoid future attacks and to support the disintegration of patriarchal power structures. We are all responsible for preventing sexualised violence.


Affected persons of sexualised violence are often not believed, their perception put into question and they are attributed a co-responsibility. Violence prevention is mainly targeted at the (possible) affected persons and not at the perpetrators.
We don’t give sexualised violence any space. We observe, support each other and fight against sexualised violence by talking about it.
First of all, it is about supporting affected persons and strengthening them. We listen to affected persons and do not contradict them. They know best what they need. We ask them and offer support.
We observe and don’t turn our heads, we step in and actively point it out when we observe one person crossing the boundaries of another person. We act responsibly and actively.
Furthermore, we point out the behaviour of the people in our surrounding (friends, co-workers etc.) and thus initiate reflexion. We always respect our own boundaries.


Consent means that only “yes” really is a Yes. We ask people – at a first getting to know each other, a touch or a kiss. We accept a No and respect the boundaries of the other one. We are aware that a No or a rejection may also be expressed non-verbally. If, for example, the other one turns away or crosses its arms it doesn’t mean yes. Also “maybe” or “I don’t know” is not a Yes. A “yes” given under the influence is not a Yes. It needs an active confirmation from all persons involved.


We deal with our own boundaries. Do we feel uncomfortable, hassled or harassed? Are we able to point this out to the other person or do we need support from others?

To ask for consensus or to actively give it may seem strange. Too often we draw conclusions from ourselves about others or guess what the other person wants and does not want. The more we are aware of this in every day life the easier it will get to ask for consensus.

Do you want support?

Do you feel uncomfortable in a situation, hassled, harassed or are you being threatened? Are you unsure of how to assess a (observed) situation?
You alone know when and why you felt uncomfortable or when and how your boundaries have been violated. You decide how you want to act.
If you want, you can confine in other persons such as friends, other guests and/or members of staff. Or you can go directly to professional advisory services.
You will receive confidential and free support and counsel at advisory services – also anonymously by phone or online. For example, at municipal or cantonal gender equality offices, cantonal victim support centres or other services.

This text follows the report «Not just a poster in toilets», where various clubs and festivals were interviewed on their needs concerning the establishment of prevention and intervention measures. You can download the full report here.

Download the report in German

Download the report in French

Download the folding poster in German

Download the folding poster in French

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