Teen Vogue Journalist Groped 22 Times at Coachella While Interviewing Festival-Goers on Sexual Harassment

Teen Vogue reporter Vera Papisova went to Coachella for the first time in April 2018 to write a story about the “rampant” prevalence of sexual harassment at festivals. During the ten hours she was actually on festival grounds, she was groped 22 times.

Papisova also interviewed 54 subjects for her article, “Sexual Harassment Was Rampant at Coachella 2018,” all of which said they had been sexually harassed at Coachella 2018. Papisova detailed some of her own and her interviewee’s experiences at the festival which, she noted, were very similar.​

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She writes: “When I was waiting in line for a sweet potato taco on Sunday, a man poked me in the stomach and asked me if I do Pilates. I said no, and then he asked, ‘What’s the secret behind that six-pack?’ and rubbed my bare stomach with his hand.”

Aaliyah, 21, told Papisova, “I think they think that since we wear what we want to wear, they are entitled to touch us.” Festival-wear is famous for its signature bohemian, barely-there clothing looks with colorful makeup. “Do you see a woman’s presence at a music festival, particularly a dancing woman, as a substitute for consent?” Papisova asked.

Papisova notes in the article how widespread sexual harassment is not limited to only Coachella. In fact, it has been frequently reported in music festivals and concerts all over the world. In 2016, The Washington Post reported numerous reports of alleged sexual assaults at the formerly-largest music festival in Sweden known as Bravalla. In 2017, after more than 20 sexual assault were reported, the festival was canceled.​

Photo courtesy of Time Out

Despite this prevalence, Coachella has made next to no effort to educate or prevent sexual harassment at their events.

A survey by Our Music My Body found that more than 90 percent of female concert-goers have been sexually harassed at music events. The Chicago-based organization began in 2011 between the non-profit organizations Rape Victim Advocates and Between Friends. The group spreads awareness of sexual harassment and domestic abuse through booths, counseling, and more at festivals such as Lollapalooza and Riot Fest.

Papisova’s piece also mentions a few tips to stay safe at festivals. For one, she recommends wearing backpacks so that if someone tries to come up behind you and grind against you, you’ll have something obstructing them. Ashley, 21, also stresses the importance of staying in a group at all times, otherwise “there’s a lot of potential for something dangerous to go down.” Carrying pepper spray and keeping apps for personal safety can significantly help. Papisova also notes the importance of seeing something and saying something.