Edinburgh Fringe Festival urged to tackle sexual harassment as female performers report groping and lewd comments

An estimated 30,000 male and female artists perform at the Fringe festival, across 3,500 shows

Roisin O'Connor
Friday 23 August 2019 08:17
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Women taking part in Edinburgh Fringe Festival have reported facing daily sexual harassment while promoting their performances.

According to a BBC report, actor's union Equity said it was receiving "more and more" accounts of sexual harassment each year.

Some women reported being groped while others said they had been made to feel uncomfortable by lewd comments. An estimated 30,000 male and female artists perform at the Fringe festival, across 3,500 shows.

One artist, named only as Lizzie, said she was handing out flyers when one man "pretended to brush something off my thigh and then moved his hand, quite forcefully, up my skirt".

Another time, she said, she was "cornered" by three men who seemed to be twice her age, who told her they would only buy a ticket or take a flyer in exchange for her phone number.

On other occasions men made comments about her appearance or invaded her personal space "so their grope could go unnoticed".

Police Scotland said it had not received any reports of harassment, and that there had been an increased police presence at this year's festival.

Equity president Maureen Beattie said a "slight level of hysteria" at the event "seems to release this underbelly of bad behaviour".

"It is completely and utterly unacceptable," she added. "We are a workforce, and you must respect us."

Earlier this week, leading union Fair Fringe, which campaigns for workers' rights at the festival, said the event has a "huge" issue with harassment and encouraged employers to do more to tackle the issue.

"Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace and that includes tackling sexual harassment, whether it's by customers, colleagues or bosses," a spokesperson for the group said. "Fringe employers need to take this issue more seriously."

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